Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Royal Prince Alfred Hospital
Radiation Oncology

Intra-Uterine Brachytherapy

Intrauterine Brachytherapy is used for cervix cancers. It involves the placement of small, hollow tubes inside the uterus. These tubes are called applicators. The radioactive source will travel into the applicator from storage through thin cables. The source is left inside the applicators until the correct amount of dose is given (usually about 10-20 minutes), and is then retracted into a safe within the machine when treatment is completed.

All patients having intrauterine brachytherapy undergo a general anaesthetic – which means you will be asleep for the duration of treatment (about 40 min – 1 hour). For this, you will need to fast from midnight the night before treatment.
Patients will typically receive about four treatments, once a week (Wednesdays). Some patients will have this treatment in combination with external beam radiotherapy. Only one type of treatment, internal or external, is given per day.
 
For each treatment, your Radiation Oncologist will insert the treatment applicator each day. You will be alone in the room while the treatment machine is on, but the Radiation Therapist will be watching you from outside via camera, and the anaesthetist will be monitoring your condition.
 
After your treatment, which may take about an hour, the applicator will be removed and you will go to the recovery room for a couple of hours until the anaesthesia wears off. You will need someone to pick you up after treatment.
 
There are very few immediate side effects with Intra-Uterine Brachytherapy, however your Radiation Oncologist will discuss these with you. Side effects you may experience include:
  • Vaginal discharge and soreness while you are on treatment and you may be predisposed to infection. Try to wear loose comfortable cotton underwear.
  • A small amount of bleeding immediately after treatment. Please contact your Radiation Oncologist if this bleeding continues the day after treatment.