The word Brachytherapy comes from the Greek word "brachy" meaning "close by" and ”therapia”, in this instance, referring to a radioactive source applied in or near the tumor.
Brachytherapy was first performed successfully to treat skin cancer on the face in 1898, shortly after Marie and Pierre Curie discovered radium. This was done by directly applying a radioactive material to the affected site. Within a few years, radioactive sources were being used internally via an applicator or tube inserted into the body.
Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy (LDR) is a time tested and safe method that allows physicians to treat cancer with greater precision and less trauma to the patient. With this method, Dr. Schreiber has adopted the same "seed technology" used for prostate cancer patients to the breast cancer patients. It is a one time outpatient procedure that can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthetic with conscious sedation, taking a little over an hour to place the seeds. Patients go home 1 – 2 hours after the procedure. This procedure gives physicians and patients the significant advantage of applying a higher dose of radiation directly to the tumor while sparing healthy tissue and surrounding organs. As a result, this course of treatment is much shorter and more comfortable than other cancer treatments, and is performed on an outpatient basis.
LDR Brachytherapy is used alone for low risk patients or combined with other treatment modalities, such as external beam radiation for higher risk patients.