High Dose Rate Brachytherapy

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a form of radiation therapy that works from within the body. Brachytherapy places a radioactive source in close proximity to a tumor.

Prostate Cancer

Brachytherapy for prostate cancer involves placing several radioactive seeds into the prostate gland. The procedure is also known as “interstitial seed implantation.”

Presently there are three radioactive sources or “isotopes” used for prostate seed implantation. They are Palladium-103, Iodine-125 and Cesium-131. The isotopes are “low-emitting” radioactive material. This means that the majority of the emitted radiation (95%) remains within the prostate gland. Your Urologist and Radiation Oncologist will decide, based on your preliminary studies, which radioactive source will be used for your procedure.

Breast Cancer

The radioactive material is applied during treatment then removed between treatments. For breast cancer treatment, HDR can in certain cases replace more traditional radiation therapy (“external beam”) which follows lumpectomy.

HDR treatment for breast cancer is delivered during a short period of time, usually over 5 days. While brachytherapy itself is not new, the technology and techniques are advanced, offering greater accuracy and allowing physicians to create more individualized treatment plans. This leading edge technology is at the Cancer Center of Virginia (CCV).