Brachytherapy Side Effects

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Brachytherapy is a form of localized radiation treatment used to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. The side effects associated with this therapy depend on several factors including:

  • The tumour type
  • The location of the tumour
  • The location of the brachytherapy source

Some of the side effects of brachytherapy are similar to those seen with external beam radiation therapy, although they are usually less intense.

Examples of acute or immediate side effects include:

  • Local swelling
  • Local bruising
  • Discharge in cases of vaginal or womb cancer.
  • Semen may be discoloured and, in rare cases, may contain expelled pellets. Patients are therefore advised to use barrier contraception during sexual intercourse.
  • Bleeding
  • Pain and discomfort at the site of the implant
  • General feeling of fatigue
  • Brachytherapy used for uterine, cervical, vaginal or prostate cancer can lead to short-term urinary symptoms including urinary retention, pain on urination, incontinence and inability to urinate. Brachytherapy for these cancers can also lead to diarrhea, constipation and some rectal bleeding.

The side effects described usually resolve within a few days following the completion of treatment. However, severe bleeding, pain, the passage of blood clots and infection due to pellet implantation are side effects that all require immediate medical attention.

Long-term side effects include infertility and erectile dysfunction (in men treated with brachytherapy for prostate cancer). Those with permanent implants may be advised to avoid making close contact with people for the first few days after the implant when the radiation is most active. These individuals may also be told to restrict any daily contact with pregnant women or children to no more than a few minutes for the first few weeks or months. People with permanent implants should also be aware that the radiation in the brachytherapy seeds can set off airport radiation sensors.

Further Reading

Last Updated: Jun 21, 2023

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.

Citations

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Mandal, Ananya. (2023, June 21). Brachytherapy Side Effects. News-Medical. Retrieved on May 20, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Brachytherapy-Side-Effects.aspx.

  • MLA

    Mandal, Ananya. "Brachytherapy Side Effects". News-Medical. 20 May 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/Brachytherapy-Side-Effects.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Mandal, Ananya. "Brachytherapy Side Effects". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Brachytherapy-Side-Effects.aspx. (accessed May 20, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Mandal, Ananya. 2023. Brachytherapy Side Effects. News-Medical, viewed 20 May 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/Brachytherapy-Side-Effects.aspx.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.