Our Dana Point skin cancer dermatologist uses brachytherapy as a type of radiation therapy to treat cancer. Radiation therapy is the use of a type of energy, referred to as ionizing radiation, to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Brachytherapy at Advanced Dermatology, Inc. involves placing a radioactive material directly inside or next to the tumor. Also called internal radiation therapy, it allows our Dana Point skin cancer dermatologist to use a higher total dose of radiation to treat a smaller area and in a shorter time.
Used by our Dana Point skin cancer dermatologist to treat cancers throughout the body, including the head and neck, prostate, skin, breast, gallbladder, vagina, uterus, lung, rectum, and eye, brachytherapy can be either temporary or permanent. With temporary brachytherapy, a highly radioactive material is placed inside a catheter, or thin tube, for a specific amount of time and then taken out. Temporary brachytherapy can be administered at a low-dose rate (LDR) or high-dose rate (HDR). Permanent brachytherapy, also called seed implantation, involves putting radioactive seeds, or pellets, in or near the tumor. These seeds are about the size of a grain of rice and are left there permanently. The radioactivity level of the implants eventually diminishes to nothing after several months. The seeds that are inactive remain in the body, and have no lasting effect on the patient.
Different types of radioactive material may be used by our Dana Point skin cancer dermatologist, depending on the type of brachytherapy. Some types of radiation sources used in brachytherapy are Iodine, Cesium, Palladium, and Iridium. In all cases of brachytherapy, however, the source of radiation is enclosed within a non-radioactive metallic capsule. By the source of radiation being encapsulated, it prevents the radioactive materials from entering the patient’s body. After precise positioning of the device has been confirmed, the radiation sources are then inserted.
To plan treatment, a computer is used to help calculate the source position and the amount of time necessary to deliver the desired dose of radiation. Our Dana Point skin cancer dermatologist will determine which preparations need to be done prior to your brachytherapy procedure which may include, pre-treatment ultrasound, MRI or CT scan, blood tests, Electrocardiogram, or chest X-rays. Our doctor may also use computer programs to plan the brachytherapy before the actual treatment procedure.