Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy: Brachytherapy Perspective

  • Caroline L. Holloway
  • Desmond O’Farrell
  • Phillip M. Devlin


Brachytherapy was conceptualized in the early 1900s when Pierre Curie suggested that a small radium tube could be inserted directly into cancer. Experiments carried out at that time showed tumor shrinkage in response to the directed radiation. The first therapeutic brachytherapy treatments used surface molds to deliver low dose rate (LDR) radiation to skin cancers, and by 1903 the first intracavitary radium treatment for cervical cancer was delivered. The use of brachytherapy waned over the 20th century with the advent of external beam radiation therapy and the development of the linear accelerator. However, brachytherapy continued to be integral in the treatment of many Gynecologic cancers. Developments in image guidance, high dose rate (HDR) and pulsed dose rate (PDR) after-loading machines, and the ability to computer-optimize treatments have again made brachytherapy a prominent component of radiation oncology departments. Brachytherapy is used for curative-intent treatments in sarcomas, Gynecologic, prostate, and head and neck malignancies, partial breast irradiation, and can be used with surface applicators for skin cancer. It is also part of the management of cancer in the lung in both curative and palliative settings. Brachytherapy can also be used in the palliative setting in rectal, esophageal, and hepatobiliary cancers.


External Beam Radiation Therapy Radiat Oncol Biol Phys Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy High Dose Rate Radiation Pneumonitis 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline L. Holloway
    • 1
  • Desmond O’Farrell
    • 2
  • Phillip M. Devlin
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Radiation OncologyBCCA—Centre for the Southern InteriorKelownaCanada
  2. 2.Division of Brachytherapy, Department of Radiation OncologyDana Farber/Brigham & Women’s HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Radiation OncologyHarvard Medical SchoolUSA
  4. 4.Department of Radiation OncologyDana Farber/Brigham & Women’s HospitalBostonUSA

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