If you’ve done any research in radiation therapy treatments, you may have seen brachytherapy as an option. It literally means “short distance” or “close” therapy as opposed to other types of radiation where an X Ray or other beam comes from a distance away (typically about a meter) from the outside. Brachytherapy places radioactive material (small radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice or slightly larger) inside your body to fight cancer in precise locations. This allows for a higher radiation dose to the tumor itself while reducing exposure to surrounding healthy tissue since the radiation dose falls rapidly as one gets further from the source. Brachytherapy has been successfully used to cure cancers for over 100 years.


In High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy, thin catheters are placed in or adjacent to the tumor. These catheters are then hooked up to a machine called a HDR afterloader, which pushes a computer regulated radioactive pellet through each catheter. 

Each seed or pellet is placed in precise locations in or around the tumor. As they pass through the catheter they are programmed to pause at these locations and deliver the radiation dose in a highly conformal manner. The whole process of delivering the dose takes a few minutes. After 1-5 treatments the catheters are removed and no radioactive substances are left in the body.


With Low-Dose Rate (LDR) brachytherapy, the radioactive seeds that are implanted through the catheter are delivered at a low-dose rate (over a few days or even a few month) while still providing high doses of radiation. Unlike HDR brachytherapy, the seeds used in LDR sometimes are permanent and will remain implanted once treatment is completed; other times they may be left in place for 1-3 days, then removed. Permanently placed seeds decay over time to no longer being radiative, which allows them to be left inside the body. 


Our team of board-certified cancer physicians at Providence Cancer Center are dedicated to offering patients the most advanced cancer treatments using multiple technologies, including both HDR and LDR brachytherapy, Tomotherapy, Varian Trilogy, and more.

In addition, Alaska CyberKnife Center at Providence Cancer Center is the only cancer center in Alaska that offers radiation therapy with the CyberKnife System, which emulates the HDR and LDR brachytherapy technology in a non-invasive treatment plan. Using precise, high doses of radiation, CyberKnife targets the tumor with real-time imaging and intelligent tumor tracking for fast and effective treatment. Treatment with CyberKnife is completed in 1 to 5 treatments within a week, and then you’ll be on your way.

All of these technologies and treatments offered at Providence Cancer Center, including the Alaska CyberKnife Center at Providence Cancer Center, serve a vital role in treating our patients and improving their quality of life. Our team of board-certified cancer doctors will work with you to find the right treatment plan for your unique condition.

Contact us today to discuss your treatment options offered at both Providence Cancer Center and Alaska CyberKnife Center at Providence Cancer Center.

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