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Brachytherapy is also known as internal radiotherapy and is used to deliver high doses of radiotherapy inside the body. At Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB), we use brachytherapy to treat the cervix (neck of womb) and vagina. It is a specialised form of radiotherapy with radiation delivered from inside the body. 

Treatment involves putting a small hollow tube (applicator) into the body, and in some cases this is done under a general anaesthetic. A radioactive source (the material that gives off the radiation) is then put into the applicators using a treatment machine which is operated by radiographers. 

Brachytherapy can be used on its own or after a course of external radiotherapy, and a treatment course may be between one to three hospital visits. Treatment does not require an overnight stay.

Treatment does cause some side effects in the area treated but does not make patients feel generally unwell. Before having treatment, an appointment with a specialist radiographer is organised to explain the treatment procedure and any expected side effects.

Last reviewed: 05 March 2024