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What Happens During Internal Radiation Therapy for Vaginal Cancer

Internal radiation therapy uses needles or containers that are filled with radioactive material and placed inside your body near the tumor.

This type of radiation is also called brachytherapy.

There are two types of internal radiation therapy:

  • Intracavitary radiation. This uses radioactive material that is inside a cylindrical container or tube that is put in the vagina.

  • Interstitial radiation. This uses needles that contain radioactive material and are placed into the tumor and nearby tissues. 

Here’s how internal radiation works:

  • You may have tests ahead of time to determine where the radioactive material should be placed. Then, the radiation oncologist or gynecologic oncologist places radioactive material inside your vagina.

  • The material stays in place for a period of time to kill the abnormal cells. How long it stays in place varies, depending on the stage and location of your cancer as well as your overall treatment plan.

  • The doctor removes the radioactive material before you go home.

  • Radiation does not stay in your body after the treatment is done. You are not radioactive, so you do not pose a risk to those around you.

Where you have the treatment and whether you stay in the hospital depends on your treatment plan and the facilities available in your area.

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