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Brachytherapy is a specialized form of radiation therapy which involves placing a sealed radioactive source in close proximity to or inside of a tumor cavity. It is commonly employed in the treatment of prostate, breast, skin and gynecological malignancies (cervix and uterine).  Using this technique, a sealed radioactive source is temporarily placed inside a catheter (located in a body cavity) for a specific amount of time and then withdrawn. This process is tightly regulated by a computer controlled machine, known as an afterloader, attached to the catheter. HDR uses a higher dose of radiation delivered over a shorter period of time.  Prior to the delivery of treatment, catheter location is verified using CT guided imaging to ensure the most precise treatment.

About Brachytherapy:

 High-dose rate brachytherapy (HDR) is a specialized form of radiation therapy which involves placing a powerful radioactive source directly inside or in close proximity of a malignant tumor. It is commonly and successfully utilized in treatment of prostate, breast, skin, gynecological, and other malignancies. This patient-focused treatment provides curative therapy with fewer side effects, shorter recovery period, and is done on an outpatient basis. Traditional treatment of prostate cancer takes eight weeks, but with brachytherapy it takes two or three sessions. Similarly, traditional treatment of breast cancer tends to take three to six weeks, while brachytherapy is completed in five sessions.

The medical equipment necessary to offer brachytherapy at St. John’s includes a microSelectron Afterloader, a NELCO HDR Brachytherapy Enclosure (shielded vault with 2 doors that open wide), and a specialized ultrasound system.

Thank you to St. John’s Auxiliary, Teton Pines Women’s Golf Association, and private donors for funding the brachytherapy program at St. John’s Health!

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