All three types provide effective radiotherapy for cervical cancer, by placing a source of radiation directly next to the cancer. The difference between them is how often the radiation is delivered and how ‘intense’ the radiation is.
Low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy uses sources that give out a low level of radiation. To deliver the total dose of radiation, the sources have to remain next to the cancer for an extended period of time. Therefore, treatment is usually spread out over the course of one week and requires a stay in hospital.1
In contrast, high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy uses sources that give out a higher level of radiation. The total dose of radiation can therefore be given in shorter sessions than LDR brachytherapy.1 As such, patients can often receive treatment on an outpatient basis (i.e. you may not need an overnight stay in hospital). However, each session of treatment has to be spread out. Typically, 2-5 short sessions of treatment are required,1 each a few days to a week apart. HDR brachytherapy is more commonly used to treat cervical cancer than LDR brachytherapy as it is often more convenient for patients.
Pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy is a cross between LDR and HDR brachytherapy. It provides short pulses of radiation to the cancer using a source that gives out a high level of radiation. However these pulses are spread out (e.g. one short pulse every hour) so that it simulates LDR brachytherapy.
Will I have to stay in hospital?
Treatment procedure – HDR brachytherapy
HDR brachytherapy uses a higher intensity of radiation than LDR brachytherapy. It is more commonly used than LDR brachytherapy, as it has a much shorter treatment time, making it more convenient.
Treatment delivery is also very similar to the treatment delivery for LDR brachytherapy (see above).
Applicator and catheter placement
How does this differ to LDR brachytherapy?
The short treatment time and convenience of HDR brachytherapy makes it a very practical treatment choice for many patients. Your doctor will be able to advise you if HDR brachytherapy is a possible treatment option for you.
This site complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information: verify here.
Please help to improve the information we provide on this site by sharing your feedback.
We hope to provide you with further useful information in the future.