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VCU Massey Cancer Center


Breast and prostate brachytherapy

Brachytherapy is the use of radioactive sources applied either inside or very close to tumor tissues. Brachytherapy allows the delivery of a very high dose of radiation with very little damage to surrounding normal structures.

At VCU Massey Cancer Center, brachytherapy is most often used to treat cancers of the breast, prostate and gynecologic organs. Our state-of-the-art brachytherapy suite allows procedures to be performed under general anesthesia with intra-operative imaging.

Breast brachytherapy

Breast brachytherapy is used for accelerated partial breast treatment. Traditional radiation therapy for breast cancer involves approximately six weeks of daily external treatments. Some women are candidates for partial breast treatment, which is a promising new treatment delivered over just five days. Several methods of partial breast treatment are available at Massey, including multi-catheter implants, both the Contura and MammoSite devices, and three-dimensional conformal external beam therapy. 

Several protocols continue to be available in the area of breast brachytherapy that allow patients to have access to the latest treatment approaches.

In those patients receiving whole breast irradiation for early stage breast cancer, we offer AccuBoost technology for boost dose delivery to the tumor bed. AccuBoost is offered in our brachytherapy suite as an option for treatment when appropriate. This non-invasive treatment combines target visualization and localization capabilities with accurate dose delivery to optimize boost dose conformance.

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Photo: A radiation treatment plan for multi-catheter breast brachytherapy.

Prostate brachytherapy

Both permanent and temporary prostate implants are available to our patients. Permanent implants (low dose rate, or LDR) involve the placement of many tiny radioactive seeds into the prostate gland under ultrasound. These implants are done in a single session. For temporary implants (high dose rate, or HDR), hollow catheters are placed into the prostate. A high-activity radioactive source is then fed under computer-control into each catheter and then removed. Temporary implants often can be done in one or two sessions. Both LDR and HDR implants can be done as the sole treatment for prostate cancer, or in some circumstances, in combination with external beam radiation.


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Photo: A radiation treatment plan for permanent prostate seed brachytherapy.


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Photo: A three-dimensional rendering of seed positions for permanent prostate brachytherapy. 

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