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Internal radiotherapy for lung cancer

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This page tells you about internal radiotherapy for lung cancer. There is information about

 

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About internal radiotherapy for lung cancer

Internal radiotherapy is called brachytherapy or endobronchial therapy. The radiotherapy is given inside the lung airway. It is sometimes used when a tumour is blocking your airway. It can shrink the blockage to help make your breathing easier and quieter. It can also help to control infections and bleeding caused by the tumour. Radiotherapy given in this way can be repeated 2 to 3 times.

Having internal radiotherapy treatment

You usually have a local anaesthetic and a medicine to make you drowsy called a sedative. The doctor puts a tube called a bronchoscope into your windpipe, either through your nose or your mouth. They then put a thin tube called a catheter through the bronchoscope and into your lung. 

The doctor puts a radioactive source down the catheter and positions it next to the tumour. The source is a radioactive metal and gives a dose of radiation to a small area around it. The doctor leaves it in place for a few minutes. The treatment does not hurt. Most of the radiotherapy dose goes straight to the cancer and very little reaches healthy tissue. This means there are few side effects. Your throat may feel a bit sore for a few days. And you may find that you have a cough and produce more phlegm temporarily.

 

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About internal radiotherapy for lung cancer

Internal radiotherapy is also called brachytherapy or endobronchial therapy. The radiotherapy is given from inside the lung airway. It is sometimes used when a tumour is blocking, or partly blocking, your airway. If an airway is blocked this can make you feel breathless and may cause a particular type of noisy breathing called stridor.

Internal radiotherapy can shrink the blockage to help make your breathing easier and quieter. It can also help to control infections and bleeding caused by the tumour. You might have internal radiotherapy in combination with other treatments to relieve a blocked airway.

Radiotherapy given in this way can be repeated 2 or 3 times if necessary.

 

Having internal radiotherapy treatment

You usually have a local anaesthetic and a medicine to make you drowsy called a sedative. Your doctor then puts a long, thin, flexible tube called a bronchoscope either down your nose, or into your mouth and into your windpipe.

This can be a bit uncomfortable, but it doesn't last long. The doctor puts a thin tube called a catheter down the bronchoscope so it is close to the tumour. They then take the bronchoscope out and put a radioactive source down the catheter. The source is a radioactive metal and gives a dose of radiation to a small area around it. The doctor leaves it in place for a few minutes. The treatment does not hurt. The doctor then takes out the radioactive source and catheter. Once the radioactive source is out you are not radioactive so it is safe to be with other people.

Diagram showing how you have internal radiotherapy for lung cancer

 

Side effects of internal radiotherapy

The radioactive source only gives radiotherapy to a very small area inside your airway. It does not reach much healthy tissue. This means that there are few side effects. Your throat may feel a bit sore for a few days after the treatment. If you are having it to relieve a blockage in your airway you may find that you have a cough. You may also produce more phlegm temporarily.

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Updated: 28 March 2014