Since the discovery of radiation, Paracelsus’s principle that “all thing are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison” has been applied to more than 100 years in treating cancer.
Paracelsus was a Swiss-German physician from the 15th century.
The trouble with radiation therapy is that it does not discriminate between healthy and cancerous cells. Therefore, for tumors that are deep inside the body, radiation tends to yield poor results.
For many decades, cancer research has focused on finding more selective treatments.
However, brachytherapy is becoming a popular option for easy-to-reach cancers such as those affecting the cervix, prostate, breast of skin.
Brachyttherapy is a form of radiation therapy. Brachy is Greek for short distance. The treatment deploys radiation sources close to the site of the tumor. The global market for brachytherapy was estimated at $680 million in 2013 and is expected to rise to $2.4 billion by 2020.
Researchers reported that patients undergoing low-dose-rate prostate brachytherapy via implanted radioactive seeds survive twice as long as those undergoing conventional high-dose radiotherapy.
The study involved 398 men who were diagnosed with cancer which had not spread beyond the prostate gland. However these men were judged to be at risk of failing to respond to treatment
Even with brachytherapy, there is room for improvement. The tumor’s closeness to the radiation source allows the dosage use to be lower and therefore the side-effects for healthy tissue aren’t as bad. Unfortunately, implanted seeds release radiation in all directions.
More studies are necessary to truly determine the benefits of brachytherapy.