Jefferson University Hospitals

Brachytherapy for Treating Many Cancer Types

Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer

Currently, women with breast cancer who undergo a lumpectomy receive radiation to the entire affected breast after surgery. Some women, however, may benefit from a high-dose radiotherapy called accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), which reduces the treatment area from the entire breast to the area of the breast immediately around the lumpectomy site.

We offer a variety of multicatheter balloon applicators (a thin, flexible tube with an inflatable balloon at the tip) to deliver targeted radiation therapy. Evolving from the traditional MammoSite® device, the multichannel applicators allow for a precise radiation dose to the target area.

At Jefferson, you can take comfort in knowing that female physicians, nurses, physicists and therapists will be taking a part in your care. Patients may request a female clinician when feasible.

Brachytherapy for Gynecological Cancers

HDR brachytherapy is typically used to treat most gynecological cancers including vaginal, cervical and endometrial. At Jefferson, we offer a variety of applicators for the treatment of gynecological cancers. These applicators allow for CT or MR image guidance for delineating the target tumor and neighboring critical structures of the body. Treatment planning with these applicators allows for customized dose distribution. In-room imaging capabilities in the Brachytherapy Suite allow for confirmation of applicator placement immediately prior to treatment delivery.

At Jefferson, you can take comfort in knowing that female physicians, nurses, physicists and therapists will be taking a part in your care. Patients may request a female clinician when feasible.

Brachytherapy for Liver Cancer

For the treatment of primary liver cancer and cancer that has metastasized to the liver, our radiation oncologists work with medical oncologists, interventional radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians to deliver high-dose radiation directly to the site of liver tumors using radioactive microspheres, a method known as selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT). This procedure involves a single or multiple infusion of radioactive microspheres.

Through a process of radioembolization, these spheres are able to limit blood flow to tumors and deliver high doses of radiation. This type of radiation is called beta radiation and has a very limited range, only penetrating a few millimeters into tissue.

Brachytherapy for Lung Cancer

Lung cancer can be treated using LDR brachytherapy with mesh implants. This is done by placing radioactive seeds implanted in a mesh near the tumor area. Over time, the mesh dissolves and the seeds lose their radioactivity, so the implant never has to be removed.

Brachytherapy for Prostate Cancer

One method for treating low risk prostate cancer is permanent prostate seed implant. Jefferson has a long-standing prostate seed implant program that uses low dose rate, low energy sources. The primary advantage of our program over others in the Philadelphia region is our use of real-time computer-assisted implant software that ensures radiation is delivered precisely and accurately to the targeted tumor in the prostate. Our system avoids traditional delays between the time a patient has an image taken and the actual procedure.

During LDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer, radioactive seeds are permanently left inside the prostate gland. These seeds are about the size of a grain of rice and over time, the seeds will continuously emit low levels of radiation. The body tissue surrounding the prostate and the low energy radiation make it safe for men receiving prostate seed implants to be around others. This outpatient procedure requires general anesthesia, utilizes ultrasound guidance to image the prostate in real time and features intra-operative treatment planning.

Brachytherapy for Sarcoma

Our radiation oncologists use HDR brachytherapy for sarcoma treatment, which involves the placement of multiple catheters (a thin, flexible tube) in the body where the tumor was removed during surgery. This customized therapy allows for placement of catheters in difficult areas to treat such as extremities.

After placement of the catheters, CT imaging allows for accurate delineation of the target tumor and surrounding critical structures of the body. High dose rate 3D treatment planning optimizes the dose to the target.