Types of Treatments: Brachytherapy

patient and doctor
Brain tumor expert Dr. Larry Kleinberg with patient.

The experienced radiation oncology team specializes in treating a variety of cancers with a number of radiation therapy options, including proton therapy. All these therapies use high energy, penetrating waves or particles to destroy cancer cells or keep them from reproducing. Your medical team will determine the most effective options for you.

Our treatments fall in several types:


Brachytherapy is a targeted, high-dose radiation treatment delivered via radioactive “seeds” that are placed directly in or near the tumor or via an applicator device placed at the tumor site using a special needle or catheter. The seeds may be inserted just for several minutes or hours and then removed, or left inside the body to release radiation over time. Brachytherapy cannot be used for every type of cancer but may reduce side effects and allow for shorter treatment times, providing patients with a better quality of life.

Specific types of brachytherapy offered by Johns Hopkins include:

  • Prostate brachytherapy –  is a form of radiation therapy used to treat prostate cancer. Prostate brachytherapy involves placing radioactive sources in the prostate gland, where the radiation can kill the cancer cells while causing less damage to healthy tissue nearby.
  • Gyn brachytherapy
  • High-Dose Rate Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy (HDR-IORT) – This therapy provides an intensive, targeted dose of radiation to a tumor site during surgery, after the tumor is removed, to sterilize the area where the tumor was located. It is often given after standard radiation therapy and has been shown to decrease the chance of the cancer coming back.
    HDR-IORT is particularly effective at treating recurrent tumors as well as large tumors that adhere to normal tissues, and it may cause fewer side effects than traditional external beam radiation treatment.

Other Treatment Types