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Brachytherapy in California Offers a More Targeted Cancer Treatment Approach

Posted May 02 2011 12:00am
by Guest Blogger, Flora. 

While traditional radiation and chemotherapy remain the most common treatments for cancer, in California brachytherapy is quickly gaining a reputation as an effective and smart cancer treatment alternative – especially for breast, prostate, and skin cancer.

While traditional radiation therapy provides radiation from an external source to control the growth and spread of malignant cancer cells, brachytherapy utilizes an internal radiation source placed within the body and positioned to fight cancer cells more efficiently.  This internal radiation source is provided by radioactive “seeds,” which are about the size of a grain of rice and exude radiation that travels only a few millimeters into the surrounding tissue.  This allows the treatment to penetrate only the tumor and leave healthy tissue as is.  For this reason, brachytherapy is also called “seed therapy” or “internal radiotherapy.”

Far from a “new and unproven” treatment method, this therapy has been used in the treatment of cancer for over 100 years.  The radiation provided by brachytherapy works the same way as traditional radiation therapy – it is simply provided by a different method.  The more targeted delivery offered by brachytherapy means that radiation does not travel through healthy organs or tissue.  This means a lower risk of side effects, less damage to the body and more treatment concentrated where it is needed.  Breast brachytherapy , prostate brachytherapy , and skin cancer brachytherapy are the most common applications of the treatment, but brachytherapy can be used to treat a variety of other cancers (including cervical and endometrial cancer).

There are two main types of brachytherapy, reports California brachytherapy treatment pioneer Western Radiation Oncology, and the type selected to treat a patient will depend on the size and location of the tumor or cancerous cells in the body as well as whether the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.  Temporary brachytherapy utilizes a radiation source placed inside the body for a few minutes to deliver a more intense dose of radiation, and is typically performed as an outpatient procedure over the course of a few weeks.  This type is most often used to treat breast, lung, prostate, and cervical cancers.  Permanent brachytherapy employs radiation sources (the tiny “seeds”) placed inside the body permanently to deliver low-dose radiation over a period of several months.  The seeds lose efficacy within nine months and are most often used to treat prostate cancer.

Aside from providing beneficial radiation therapy directly to cancer cells and leaving healthy tissue untouched, brachytherapy offers a lower risk of side effects than other cancer treatments.  The treatment is minimally invasive and does not require serious surgery, and even high-dose temporary brachytherapy can be performed on an outpatient basis.  The treatment can also be performed as an outpatient procedure and requires both fewer hospital visits and shorter stays in the hospital.  In addition, brachytherapy is comparably as effective as external beam radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer.  This means that brachytherapy has the potential to not only save patients’ lives, but to bring them back to their normal lives and full function faster than ever before.

About Western Radiation Oncology
Western Radiation Oncology, or WRO, is a California cancer treatment center nationally renowned for their multi-physician approach and innovative use of brachytherapy in the treatment of breast and prostate cancer.  With locations in San Jose, Mountain View, San Mateo, and Pleasanton, WRO provides personalized attention and effective, specialized care.  Visit for more information.
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