Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses no external radiation to kill cancerous cells. During this procedure, a very small device called a “seed” is inserted inside the cancerous tumor to administer radiation. The seed will emit the needed radiation while at the same time doing minimal damage to the patient’s healthy tissue. This procedure is categorized as internal radiation therapy, which shows great potential for treating mesothelioma and lung cancers. It is not the typical or standard treatment, but it does assist with managing and treating a wide variety of chronic symptoms.
The Brachytherapy Surgical Procedure
During a brachytherapy surgical procedure, an implant is inserted into the cancerous tissue using a hollow tube. The implant holds the radioactive material used to kill the cancer. A patient will be given general or local anesthesia, and the doctor will rely on prior tests, such as an ultrasound or CT scan, to help them place the implant in the proper location within the tumor.
Together with other treatments and surgery, brachytherapy has extremely positive results in eradicating cancer growth. This procedure also produces positive palliative treatment results because of its ability to elevate symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing. Since this procedure is internal radiation therapy, side effects are minimal. The site where treatment was administered may experience mild swelling and tenderness for a few months post-procedure.
The Types of Brachytherapy
Patients who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer most often receive a form of low-dose rate treatment known as permanent brachytherapy. In the low-dose rate, the tumor is attacked continuously for months after the initial insertion.
Results from Studies on Brachytherapy
Brachytherapy results have not been consistent tor patients with mesothelioma or lung cancer. This therapy continues to be studied to determine its overall effectiveness for treating mesothelioma. Lung cancer patients show more positive results.
Many studies are continuing today to test the value of brachytherapy. Many mesothelioma treatment centers consider this procedure an option when crafting a specialized treatment plan for a patient with mesothelioma. However, studies still indicate that the growth of mesothelioma tumors do not always cease when a patient combines brachytherapy surgery with a pleurectomy/decortication procedure.
Patients who have been diagnosed with lung cancer and who received permanent brachytherapy have the best success rates, according to various studies. The life spans of many of brachytherapy patients increased by 5 years in one study. This therapy also was the most effective for reducing the chronic symptoms associated with lung cancer, such as shortness of breath and chest pain. Brachytherapy’s effectiveness as a palliative treatment in lung cancer patients is heightened after external beam radiation therapy.