OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

Peoria, Illinois


Brachytherapy or Curietherapy is a form of therapy where the source of radiation is placed adjacent to or inside the cancer lesion to be treated. Brachytherapy technique allows for a high dose of targeted radiation to be delivered to a cancer, while being highly protective of adjacent healthy tissue. As a result, for appropriate patients, Brachytherapy may offer a good option to decrease the side effects of radiation treatment.

Brachytherapy is commonly offered as either a Low Dose or High Dose intensity rate.  High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy is not available or appropriate for all patients.  Under certain circumstances, however, HDR allows greater control over the shaping and prescription for the radiation dose delivered.  This allows HDR treatments to affect only a very small area, which again may decrease long term side effects compared to what is possible with Low Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy, permanent seed implants, external beam radiation therapy, or intensity modulated radiation therapy.

Additionally, treatment with Brachytherapy can almost always be completed over 3 treatment days or less. Standard therapies may normally require as long as 9 weeks (45 days) of daily treatment. Brachytherapy is increasingly offered as an outpatient procedure, though a short inpatient stay may be required depending on the circumstances of the cancer treatment.

Brachytherapy is commonly recommended as an option for cancer of the Prostate, Breast, and for Gynecological Cancers.  This technique may also be available as a boost (or in addition to) an External Beam or Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy course of treatment.

Dr. James McGee of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center was the first to offer treatments using High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy in downstate Illinois. Our department is the most experienced provider for Brachytherapy procedures in the region, and the sole department able to offer tertiary Brachytherapy services to highly complex sites such as the Head & Neck region. Both High Dose and Low Dose Rate Brachytherapy procedures are also offered by OSF Saint Francis providers.