What is brachytherapy?
It is a method of radiotherapy in which, however, the tumor-target is irradiated internally, without affecting healthy tissues. This allows high doses to be administered in order to achieve local control of the disease.
How is the treatment carried out?
Depending on the patients’ clinical condition, an imaging test will need to be done in advance in order to help your doctor assess the precise anatomy of the tumor and the area in which it is located in relation to the surrounding organs.
You will then be taken to the brachytherapy operating theater, where you will be given epidural or general anesthesia. Then, with the assistance of the medical physicist, intraocular catheters will be placed by the specialist doctor into specific positions, which have been determined with almost absolute accuracy. Once the needles are in the designated area of the tumor, radiation will be administered directly into that area. followed by irradiation. The number of catheters depends on the size of the tumor, and the stage of the disease, and the time required for the radiotherapy. For example, irradiation of prostate cancer normally takes about 15 minutes.
Once everything is set-up as described previously, and the radiation is to be administered, the brachytherapy team members will leave the operating room, but they will monitor the patient from internal cameras, and will also be able to communicate verbally. You can talk to them, tell them how you feel. Always have in mind that treatment can be stopped at any time, and start again when you feel better. But be assured that during the whole procedure there is no pain, and you cannot feel, see or hear the controlled amounts of radiation entering your body, exactly at the tumor-target.
When the procedure is completed, the intraocular catheters are removed and you are transferred to the intensive care unit for full resuscitation. Depending on the treatment and your clinical situation, doctor’s will determine if and how long you will need to stay under observation at the Patient Ward.