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High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

HDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that temporarily places radioactive materials either directly within tumor tissue (interstitial) or within a surgical cavity or a body cavity, such as the chest cavity, near a tumor (intracavitary). Brachytherapy maximizes the radiation dose to cancerous tissues while minimizing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

The radioactive materials are sealed in tiny pellets or “seeds,” which are put into the body through small tubes called applicators. As the seeds naturally decay, they deliver radiation that damages nearby cancer cells. An HDR brachytherapy session typically takes only a few minutes and may be repeated over the course of a few days or weeks. The radioactive material is not left in your body. The applicator is either left in place between treatments or put in before each treatment.

HDR brachytherapy is most commonly used to treat gynecologic cancers, such as cervical cancer and uterine (endometrial) cancer, and skin cancer. This procedure may also be suitable for treatment of certain types of breast cancer, lung cancer, rectal cancer and eye cancer.

Learn more about Smilow Cancer Hospital's areas of expertise and specialized cancer programs.