Brachytherapy is the insertion, or application of radioactive sources to treat disease. The advantage of brachytherapy over other types of radiotherapy lies in the very close proximity of the therapeutic sources to the disease.

Brachytherapy at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre

Approximately over 200 brachytherapy treatments are given annually at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC). The brachytherapy facilities at BWoSCC are amongst the most advanced in the UK. There is a dedicated brachytherapy theatre suite and two state-of-the-art High Dose Rate (HDR) treatment suites that use tiny pellets of Iridium to deliver treatment in minutes. They are predominantly used to treat cervical and endometrial cancers. Other forms of brachytherapy available at BWoSCC are permanent radioactive seed implants for prostate cancer and the centre hosts the national ophthalmic brachytherapy service for Scotland.

Permanent seed implants have revolutionized the treatment of early-stage prostate cancer in the UK. Strands of interlocking seeds and spacers are introduced to the prostate to treat cancer. Permanent seed implants for prostate treatment have proved an attractive alternative to external beam therapy for those patients who are suitable for the treatment.

Future Developments

The Beatson has now introduced routine CT and MR imaging for most brachytherapy patients. These advanced imaging techniques will greatly enhance our ability to identify treatment targets. In turn, this will allow doctors to take advantage of the precise control of radiation dose to the exact area requiring treatment limiting the side effects to other areas.

Brachytherapy has an important role to play in providing highly specialized treatments to a range of disease sites. The Beatson intends to utilise the superb facilities available at its current site to continue to develop brachytherapy further.

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