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What can it be used to treat?

Which cancers can be treated with brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is commonly used to treat cervical, prostate, breast and skin cancer.1

It can also be used to treat many other types of cancer. Explore which cancers can be treated with brachytherapy below.

Watch the video to hear about the different uses of brachytherapy.

Brachytherapy use in different tumor types

Most types of cancer generally have four stages which are often labelled numerically:2

Stage Description
1 Usually indicates that the cancer is relatively small and contained within the organ in which it started.
2 Indicates that although the cancer has not spread, it is bigger in size than Stage 1 tumors.
3 Indicates that the cancer may have begun to spread to surrounding tissues and lymph nodes.
4 Indicates that the cancer has spread to another organ. This is often referred to as ‘metastatic’ or ‘secondary’ cancer.

Brachytherapy is often used to treat stage 1 and 2 tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body.

In these types of cancer, brachytherapy has been shown to be as effective as surgery and with no increased risk of side effects.1 Brachytherapy is often the only chance of cure in tumors which are not accessible for surgery.3

In stage 2 cancers, where the tumor is too large to ensure enough radiation is reaching the treatment area, brachytherapy can be combined with other treatments, such as external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and/or surgery.1

In more advanced disease stages, brachytherapy can be used to help reduce the size of large tumors and remove obstructions, for example in cancers that may block the airway (trachea) or esophagus (food pipe).3

References
1. Patel RR and Arthur DW. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America 2006;20(1):97–118.
2. Cancer Research UK. Available at: www.cancerhelp.org.uk/about-cancer/what-is-cancer/grow/the-stages-of-a-cancer. Accessed 2 February 2011.
3. National Cancer Institute. Available at. www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/cervical/healthprofessional/allpages. Accessed 2 February 2011.