Planting Seeds to Destroy Cancer

Brachytherapy Cancer Treatment

The team of physicians at Northeast Oncology Associates (NOA) offers cancer patients in Northeastern Pennsylvania the opportunity to benefit from Brachytherapy, a highly specialized treatment for certain types of cancer. Brachytherapy treatment is especially effective for men with prostate cancer and some women with early-stage breast cancer.

What is brachytherapy?

Brachy is derived from the Greek word meaning short. Brachytherapy delivers an intense form of radiation over a short distance through small needles or catheters directly into the tumor site, or near the site, to destroy cancer cells. Under ultrasound visualization, the seeds are delivered to the tumor with precise accuracy. Brachytherapy differs from the standard external beam radiation treatment, which is delivered by a beam of radiation from an external machine. For some patients a combination of external beam radiation and brachytherapy is most effective. Brachytherapy may help cure cancer or help relieve pain associated with some cancers.

Who is a candidate for brachytherapy?

At NOA, brachytherapy is most often used for men with prostate cancer and women with early-stage breast cancer or cancer of the reproductive organs. It also is helpful for patients with cancer of the mouth and throat, and for some patients with cancer of the esophagus, lung, or bile duct.

Why is brachytherapy effective for prostate cancer?

Brachytherapy is effective for treating organs which are difficult to reach because of their location in the body. Because brachytherapy is able to deliver radiation with extremely precise accuracy, it is particularly useful for prostate cancer. Unlike surgery to remove the prostate, it usually can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Brachytherapy also minimizes unwanted side effects from prostate cancer treatment such as impotence and incontinence.

Why is brachytherapy effective for breast cancer?

Brachytherapy is effective for some women with early stage breast cancer who have elected for breast conservation therapy to surgically remove the cancerous tumor by a procedure known as a lumpectomy. Lumpectomy is generally followed by radiation treatment to help prevent reocurrence of the cancer. Unlike standard whole breast external beam radiation following a lumpectomy, which takes 5 to 7 weeks, brachytherapy delivers radiation directly to the affected breast tissue over a period of 5 days. This procedure is sometimes called “MammoSite” radiation treatment.

What are the advantages of brachytherapy treatment by physicians at NROC?

The team of NOA physicians has many years of experience providing brachytherapy. They have treated more people with brachytherapy than most other physicians in Pennsylvania. As a result, patients treated at NOA enjoy special advantages thanks to the extensive experience of NOA physicians in this specialized radiation treatment.