High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy
HDR brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy. This therapy destroys cancer cells and shrinks tumors. During HDR brachytherapy, implants are placed into the patient’s body during treatment. The implants can be hollow needles, catheters (hollow tubes) or balloons filled with fluid that are inserted into or near the cancer. General anesthesia may be used during the insertion of implants, depending on the size and number of implants, as well as the location of the insertion site.
Those undergoing HDR brachytherapy will likely make daily trips for treatment, or may stay in the hospital depending on the type of cancer they have. It's OK to be around others once the implants are removed, as they are not radioactive.
Northwell Health provides HDR brachytherapy to eligible patients with cancer.
The Department of Radiation Medicine was the first on Long Island to utilize the CONTURA balloon for HDR brachytherapy for breast cancer treatment. CONTURA is a catheter used to deliver HDR brachytherapy to the breast after surgery to remove the primary tumor. CONTURA places radiation inside the lumpectomy cavity, so it is targeted to the area where cancer is most likely to occur, and the amount of radiation to healthy surrounding tissue is limited.
The department is one of the few on Long Island using HDR brachytherapy to treat skin cancer. For skin cancer, this painless, noninvasive treatment can be completed twice a week, for four weeks. Patients are left with an often better physical appearance than having a traditional skin graft. There is no scarring or need for reconstructive surgery after HDR brachytherapy, and patients experience excellent outcomes that are equivalent to surgery. Reduction in normal tissue injury means more rapid and complete functional recovery.