A Closer Look at Brachytherapy

VIDEO | 01:15

MSK radiation oncologist Kathryn Beal explains how brachytherapy, a form of internal radiation, can be used to destroy lingering cancer cells after surgery.

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Dr. Kathryn Beal
Traditionally, if a brain metastasis is removed, there's almost a 50% chance that that tumor will eventually regrow over time. And that's because when the neurosurgeon goes into operate, he or she can only remove what they can see in the operating room. We don't want to remove any healthy brain tissue.

We are using a new technique where we use something called brachytherapy, which is a form of internal radiation that's placed at the surgical site.

Our neurosurgeon would remove the brain metastasis and place radioactive seeds — and those are tiny little seeds that are placed permanently in the form of a little, what we call a tile or a sponge that holds them in place along the surgical cavity or the edge of where the tumor was touching.

There's a low dose of radiation that's continuously released — and after approximately 50 days, there's no more radiation released. And that radiation helps to eliminate any potential cancer cells that may be left behind and will help prevent the tumors from regrowing.