Internal Radiation Therapy
A physical exam
- A review of your medical history
- Additional blood work
- X-rays and imaging tests to define the places in your body that will get radiation or treatment fields.
Most brachytherapy is put in place through a catheter or applicator tube.
- The tube is put into your body while you are under anesthesia or a local anesthetic.
- Radiation is placed inside the catheter or applicator.
- Once the radiation source is inside of you, your body will give off radiation. With brachytherapy, your body fluids (urine, sweat, and saliva) will not give off radiation. With liquid radiation, your body fluids will give off radiation for a while.
- The radiation source stays in place for 1 to 7 days.
- A hospital stay is likely.
- The radiation source is in place for 10 to 20 minutes at a time and then taken out.
- Treatment frequency depends on your type of cancer. Typically, treatment is twice a day for 2 to 5 days or once a week for 2 to 5 weeks.
- During the course of treatment, your catheter or applicator may stay in place, or it may be put in place before each treatment.
- You may be in the hospital during this time, or you may make daily trips to the hospital to have the radiation implants.
- Radiation is put in place using a catheter.
- The implants stay in your body.
- The radiation gets weaker over time. Eventually almost all radiation will go away.
- Limit your time around other people and do not spend time around children or pregnant women when the radiation is first put in place.
- Staying in a private hospital room to protect others from radiation coming from your body.
- Being treated quickly by nurses and other hospital staff. They will provide all the care you need, but they may stand at a distance and talk with you from the doorway to your room.
- Visitors may not be allowed to visit when the radiation is first put in.
- After a length of time, visitors may be allowed to short visits or 30 minutes of less each day.
- Not having visits from children younger than 18 and pregnant women.
- You will get medicine for pain before the catheter or applicator is removed.
- The area where the catheter or applicator was might be tender for a few months.
- There is no radiation in your body after the catheter or applicator is removed. It is safe for people to be near you - even young children and pregnant women.
- For 1 to 2 weeks, you may need to limit activities that take a lot of effort. Ask your doctor what kinds of activities are safe for you.