HDR Brachytherapy for Gynecological Malignancies

HDR Brachytherapy for Gynecological Malignancies

There are many types of gynecologic cancers, each of which affects different parts of the female reproductive system. Each of these cancers can occur in all women, and the risk of developing one of these cancers increases with age. High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR) is a type of radiation therapy that can treat several gynecologic cancers.

HDR Brachytherapy for Gynecologic Malignancies

High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)  may be used for cancers that occur in the female reproductive system. This type of treatment may be used in addition to external beam radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, or a combination of these.

HDR Brachytherapy Can be Used to Treat:

  • Cervical cancer
  • Uterine cancer
  • Uterine sarcoma
  • Vaginal cancer

How does HDR Brachytherapy for Gynecologic Cancer Work?

High Dose Radiation treats gynecologic cancers with a high dose of radiation over short periods of time. This method allows for maximum radiation dose to be delivered while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.

What to Expect During HDR Brachytherapy for Gynecologic Cancers:

  • HDR is an outpatient procedure, so you do not need to be checked into the hospital.
  • The doctor places a high dose implant – the source of radiation – into the body using a specialized applicator. The implant will either be placed into the tissue (interstitial) or into a nearby body cavity (intracavity) depending on the location of the tumor.
  • Imaging such as CT, MRI, or ultrasound may be used to help guide the placement of the implant.
  • The implant remains in the body for a short amount of time, usually less than an hour.
  • The staff will not be present in the room while the radiation dose is being delivered, but will be in constant contact through monitors and speakers.
  • You should not feel any discomfort during the procedure.
  • Once treatment is complete, the applicator and catheter will be removed.

HDR treatment may be repeated over the course of several days or several weeks.

Side Effects of HDR for Gynecologic Malignancies

Side effects following HDR treatment for gynecologic cancers are usually related to the exact area that is treated. Not everyone experiences side effects. These side effects usually resolve within several weeks of the final treatment. Consult with your doctor about expected side effects for your treatment plan.

Short-Term Side Effects Include:

  • Hair loss in pubic region
  • Urination changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin inflammation or swelling
  • Skin irritation

Late-Term Side Effects Include:

  • Infertility and early menopause
  • Incontinence
  • Skin changes

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