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The Susan F. Smith Center for Women's Cancers at Dana-Farber provides a variety of services to help patients and their families cope with the many physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of a cancer diagnosis and its treatment. We are committed to helping patients regain a sense of control over their lives and feel their best throughout treatment and beyond.

Watch an overview video on brachytherapy 

Brachytherapy can be administered as either High Dose Rate (HDR) or Low Dose Rate (LDR). HDR brachytherapy delivers a high dose of radiation in a short period of time, approximately 10 minutes; typically a patient needs three to five HDR treatments, given one to three times per week over a two-to-four week period.

HDR brachytherapy may occasionally be administered once a week before the completion of external beam therapy. LDR brachytherapy delivers the dose of radiation at a much slower rate — typically over two to four days — and requires the patient to be isolated in a shielded hospital room because of the radioactivity administered to the tumor.

Most visitors will be permitted to see you during your hospital stay (no more than 30 minutes per day), though restrictions on the time spent by these visitors with you will be discussed with you by your treatment team.

Brachytherapy has been highly useful and effective in treating gynecological tumors because the radioactive sources can be placed inside or adjacent to the uterus or cervix. Using this method, a higher dose of radiation can be given directly to the tissues at risk while reducing the dosage to the surrounding organs such as the bladder, rectum and colon.

There are several types of applicators that are commonly used for brachytherapy. Your physician determines which applicator is best for you depending on the size, extent and location of your tumor.

Learn more about interstitial brachytherapy.

Learn more about tandem and ovoid brachytherapy.

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