Brachytherapy

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At UT Southwestern Medical Center, our radiation oncologists are among the few in North Texas offering brachytherapy – specialized radiation therapy that can more precisely target cancerous tumors – and the only center in the region to offer the procedure intraoperatively.

The Most Comprehensive Brachytherapy Program in North Texas

Radiation therapy is a commonly used cancer treatment that uses high-energy waves, such as X-rays or gamma rays, to damage or destroy cancer cells. Brachytherapy is internal radiation therapy, which involves a radioactive substance implanted in or near a cancerous tumor to provide direct, targeted treatment.

Brachytherapy uses tiny radioactive sources such as capsules, pellets, seeds, or wires that are implanted either temporarily or permanently. These implants provide a high dose of radiation in a small area, which maximizes cancer treatment while minimizing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

UT Southwestern has the most comprehensive brachytherapy program in North Texas. Our radiation oncologists work closely with medical oncologists and cancer surgeons to provide brachytherapy to treat a wide range of cancers. Our cancer teams use imaging to guide brachytherapy procedures to make the treatment even safer and more effective, maintaining our patients’ quality of life.

As the only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated comprehensive cancer center in North Texas, we deliver the best cancer care available today and push to discover new treatments. NCI designation means we offer patients the ability to participate in the broadest possible range of clinical trials, with access to potential therapies not available at other facilities.

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Brachytherapy Treatment Options

Our cancer teams administer different types of brachytherapy in different ways, based on the type of cancer and each patient’s situation.

In most cases, the radioactive sources are placed intracavity – in a space, or cavity, in the body, such as the rectum or uterus. For advanced and complex tumors, we use interstitial brachytherapy, in which the implants are placed inside the tumor, as opposed to intracavitary.

Brachytherapy can be performed using a high-dose rate (HDR) or low-dose rate (LDR). Our team will discuss the benefits of each approach and help patients decide which is best to treat their cancer.

  • High-dose-rate brachytherapy: Patients receive a powerful radioactive source for a few minutes per treatment session; usually there are a few sessions over a few weeks, depending on the specific case. The radioactive material is taken out of the patient’s body after each session.
  • Low-dose-rate brachytherapy: This type provides lower amounts of radiation for a longer period of time, such as one to several days, before the radioactive source is removed. In certain cases, the radioactive source is permanently left in the body. This type of radioactive source stops releasing radiation after a few weeks.
Brachytherapy internal beam

As a leader in brachytherapy treatment, UT Southwestern offers treatments not available at other facilities. For example:

  • MR-guided, image-based cervix brachytherapy: We use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for treatment planning in this type of brachytherapy. Typically, a physician would use two-dimensional imaging to minimize the dose to any organs in the vicinity. In the past decade, several studies have found that the clinical outcome of patients with cervical cancer who receive MRI-guided brachytherapy will be improved compared with those who receive traditional 2-D planning. UT Southwestern experts have published a study highlighting this change.
  • Intraoperative brachytherapy: Using our specialized brachytherapy room, our team can implant radioactive sources in patients right after the tumor is surgically removed. Intraoperative brachytherapy removes the tumor and then provides radiation to treat any remaining cancer cells for more aggressive, targeted treatment.

Cancers We Treat with Brachytherapy

At the Simmons Cancer Center, our cancer specialists use brachytherapy to treat:

What to Expect

Procedures vary depending on the type of cancer. Some patients go home the same day of the procedure, while other treatments require a hospital stay. Our team discusses details with patients and answers any questions they have.

Find a Clinical Trial

We have a wide range of clinical trials open to patients with all stages of cancer. Search for opportunities to participate in a cancer study.

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University Hospital Radiation Oncology Clinic - Moncrief Building

Moncrief Building
5801 Forest Park Road, 2nd Floor
Dallas, Texas 75390
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