High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)

Radiation can be deposited in tumors by aiming the radiation from outside of the body (teletherapy) or by placing the radiation into or adjacent to tumors (brachytherapy). With some types of brachytherapy the radiation is permanently left inside the tumor. With other types of brachytherapy, the radiation is placed inside the body for only minutes to hours. A common way to perform non-permanent brachytherapy is by using a process called high dose rate radiation (HDR).

HDR is usually performed as an outpatient or with an over-night hospitalization. HDR implants (brachytherapy) are always temporary radiation, that is, the radiation is given over a few minutes and does not remain in the body. Brachytherapy (HDR) has the advantage of application of the radiation directly to the tumor without passing through the skin to reach the tumor. Also, with brachytherapy (HDR), the radiation diminishes very rapidly with increasing distances from the tumor (1/square of the radius). This physics property allows the radiation to be concentrated in the tumor with reduced effect on adjacent normal body parts. In the last two years, we have performed HDR for cancers of the uterus, cervix, breast and bile duct.