Radiation Oncology Services

Read a UPMC CancerCenter Patient Testimonial

What is Internal Radiation Therapy?

Internal radiation therapy, also called brachytherapy or seed implantation, is a type of radiation therapy in which radioactive materials are placed, temporarily or permanently, inside the affected area. This form of therapy delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the cancerous area.

The materials, called “seeds,” slowly release radiation over several months. Within one year, their radiation completely decays. The seeds can remain in place for the rest of a person’s life.

Internal radiation therapy is most often used to treat the following types of cancers:

Depending on the form of cancer, the radioactive material may be:

How is internal radiation therapy done?

A surgeon and radiation oncologist usually work together to perform the implant.

While the details of your procedure depend on the location of the cancer, the surgeon is responsible for setting up a temporary guide for injecting the seeds.

The radiation oncologist prepares (and in most cases, implants) the seeds.

Most people leave the hospital within three to four hours after the procedure, although some cancers may require inpatient stays.

What are the benefits of internal radiation therapy?

Compared to external therapy, internal radiation therapy:

Your radiation oncologist will decide which treatment option is best for you.