Brachytherapy is another term for internal beam radiotherapy. This type of radiation therapy is when radioactive material is placed into the cancer or surrounding tissue. Implants may be permanent or temporary and may require a hospital stay.

Types of brachytherapy]’ include:

Permanent implants. These are tiny steel seeds that contain radioactive material. The capsules are about the size of a grain of rice. They deliver most of the radiation therapy around the implant area. But some radiation may exit the patient’s body. This requires safety measures to protect others from radiation exposure. Over time, the implants lose radioactivity. And the inactive seeds remain in the body.

Temporary internal radiation therapy. This is when radiation therapy is given in one of these ways:

  • Needles
  • Tubes, called catheters, that carry fluid in or out of the body
  • Special applicators

The radiation stays in the body for anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Most people receive radiation therapy for just a few minutes. Sometimes, people receive internal radiation therapy for more time. If so, they stay in a private room to limit other people’s exposure to the radiation.

Brachytherapy is used for a variety of cancers, including cervical cancer and some brain tumors.