Types of brachytherapy

Depending on the type of cancer and your radiation oncologist’s recommendation, the radioactive sources may be placed in your body for a limited time or permanently.

Learn more about:


Listen to our podcasts on Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis and Making Treatment Decisions


Temporary brachytherapy

In temporary brachytherapy, the radioactive sources are removed at the end of each treatment session. The sources are often inserted using applicators such as thin plastic tubes (catheters) or cylinders. These applicators may be removed at the end of each session, or left in place until after the final session.

Temporary brachytherapy is mostly used for prostate cancers and gynaecological cancers (such as cervical and vaginal cancers).

Safety precautions – While the radioactive sources are in place, some radiation may pass outside your body. For this reason, hospitals take certain safety precautions to avoid exposing staff and your visitors to radiation. Staff will explain any restrictions before you start brachytherapy treatment.

In some cases, the treatment will be high-dose-rate brachytherapy and it will be given for a few minutes at a time during multiple sessions. The radiation therapists will leave the room briefly during the treatment, but will be able to see and talk to you from another room. You may be able to have this treatment as an outpatient.

In other cases, the sources will deliver low-dose-rate or pulseddose- rate brachytherapy over 1–6 days. During this time, you will be an inpatient and will stay alone in a dedicated treatment room within or close to the main hospital ward.

For low-dose-rate or pulsed-dose-rate brachytherapy, hospital staff will only come into the room for short periods of time, and visitors may be restricted – children under 18 and pregnant women are usually not allowed to enter the room. You can use an intercom to talk with staff and visitors outside the room.

Once the sources are removed, you are not radioactive and there is no risk to other people.


Permanent brachytherapy

In permanent brachytherapy, radioactive seeds about the size of an uncooked grain of rice are put inside special needles and implanted into the body. The needles are removed, and the seeds are left in place to gradually decay. As the seeds decay, they release small amounts of radiation over weeks or months. They will eventually stop releasing radiation, but they will not be removed. This is a low-dose-rate technique and it is often used to treat small prostate cancers.

Safety precautions – If you have permanent brachytherapy, you will be radioactive for a short time after the seeds are inserted. The radiation is usually not harmful to people around you, so it is generally safe to go home. However, you may need to avoid close contact with young children and pregnant women for a short time – your treatment team will advise you of any precautions to take. You will usually be able to return to your usual activities a day or two after the seeds are inserted.

    — Derek


Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet of Understanding Radiation Therapy.


Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059

Kobo

To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.


This information was last reviewed in December 2017
View who reviewed this content
View our editorial policy

Support services

Coping with cancer?
Ask a health professional or someone who’s been there, or find a support group or forum

Need legal and financial assistance?
Pro bono legal and financial matters, no interest loans or help with small business

Looking for transport, accommodation or home help?
Practical advice and support during and after treatment

Cancer information

Deciding on specialist care
How to find and choose a surgeon, oncologist or other specialist

Patient rights and responsibilities
What you can reasonably expect from your health care professionals

View our publications
Guides and fact sheets for people with cancer, their families and friends

SHARE
TOP BACK TO TOP