HEALTH ALERT!  For the safety of our patients and staff, effective March 30, 2020, new patients and patients with disabilities will be permitted one visitor over the age of 15. No other visitors will be permitted into the clinic.  Family members and caretakers may participate in the appointments remotely by phone or video conference if desired. Compass is working with other health care providers in the area to help contain the spread of the novel Coronavirus. We are taking active steps to minimize your exposure to the virus. These steps include screening everyone who enters the clinic for signs of illness, banning most visitors in the clinic, minimizing our own staffing and allowing some employees to work from home, and frequent sanitation of the clinic. We are using personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns, gloves, and face-shields according to national guidelines. We are working to identify those patients whose visits or treatments can be safely delayed, and we will notify you of this if you have an upcoming visit.  We ask that you stay home if you have fever and/or cough.

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High Dose Rate Brachytherapy (HDR)

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy. This process uses a radioactive device or implant placed inside the body. The device delivers a high dose of radiation to a limited area, sparing much of the surrounding tissue. It is one of the most focused, precise forms of radiation therapy. HDR can be used to treat various forms of cancer, such as:

Why HDR Brachytherapy?

The main advantage of using a highly focused form of radiation therapy is that it limits how much healthy tissue is affected during treatment. With no external energy waves passing through your body, you avoid many of the skin side effects common with external beam radiation. People receiving this therapy also tend to have a faster recovery and fewer side effects because it is so targeted. By directing the treatment directly at the cancer, the beam isn’t penetrating other organs, besides your skin, to reach the cancer.

How is the Brachytherapy Performed?

Your doctor will perform a computed tomography (CT) scan or another imaging scan to determine the exact location for the radioactive materials. Then, he or she will insert applicators, usually catheters, during a minor outpatient surgical procedure. The implants, in the form of pellets or seeds, are delivered to the cancer site through the applicators. A computer helps guide the implants to the correct location. The implant may be placed in or near the tumor (called interstitial) or in a body cavity such as the uterus (called intracavity).

The implant is left in for a set amount of time, often less than 30 minutes, and then removed. For some cancers, such as breast cancer, the implant may be left in for days. Your doctor will discuss the frequency and duration of your therapy. HDR brachytherapy is given on an outpatient basis. The length of treatment depends on your type and stage of cancer and your doctor's personalized recommendation. No radiation is left in your body once you complete HDR brachytherapy treatment in the office.

There is little discomfort and patients do not have to spend long amounts of time immobile during treatment. You may feel some pain at the site of the applicators, and the implants used to deliver the radiation may cause some nausea or discomfort. Symptoms usually resolve soon after the treatment session.

Your radiation oncologist will talk to you about whether this treatment is right for your cancer and how long you need to receive HDR radiation treatment.