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Cesium-131 Brachytherapy Cancer Treatment

written by: Vikas Vij • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 12/17/2010

Cesium-131 brachytherapy seed is considered the powerful radioactive isotope to treat prostate cancer and various other cancers with internal radiation therapy.

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    Cesium-131 Isotope for Internal Radiation Therapy

    Cesium-131 is one of the latest and most advanced radioisotopes, which is helping to achieve more successful breakthroughs in cancer radiation treatment. Cesium-131 brachytherapy or internal radiation treatment has demonstrated significantly positive results for prostate cancer. It is now also being used for a few other malignancies and the trials are in progress to evaluate its benefits for various types of cancers. Cesium-131 is essentially an advanced brachytherapy isotope, commonly known as a radioactive seed that is implanted directly into the tumor cavity. This helps to localize intensive radiation to the affected area only, and prevents radiation exposure in the surrounding healthy tissue.

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    Advantages of Cesium-131 Brachytherapy Seeds

    Cesium-131 isotope offers several advantages over other radioactive isotopes or seeds used in internal radiation procedures. Cesium-131 was approved by the FDA in 2003 for treatment of prostate cancer and other malignant tumors. Compared to other common radioactive seeds, Cesium-131 has a strong energy level. The energy level of an isotope is a key determinant of how evenly the radiation dose can be administered into the tumor. This ensures there are no hot and cold spots in the affected area, and also the dose remains confined to the cancerous area, and does not affect other healthy parts such as the rectum or the urethra.

    Another key benefit of Cesium-131 is that in comparison to other radioactive seeds used to treat prostate cancer, it has the shortest half-life of only about 10 days. In other words, it can complete the treatment in a substantially shorter time than alternative isotopes. Cesium-131 also ensures relatively rapid resolution of common side effects of prostate cancer. Studies have revealed that Cesium-131 also offers a superior “Biologically Effective Dose" (BED) across a broad range of tumors, compared to other isotopes.

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    Treatments in Addition to Prostate Cancer

    Cesium-131 has been in use for the treatment of prostate cancer with very successful results. It is currently also being used to treat ocular melanoma. However, gradually the application scope of the isotope is also being expanded to treat colorectal, brain, head, neck and lung cancers. The manufacturer of Cesium-131 internal radiation therapy seeds, IsoRay, Inc. has recently announced a multi-institutional study of the isotope for its effectiveness to treat Non Small Cell Lung Cancers (NSCLC).

    The manufacturer IsoRay expects that Cesium-131 will be available for wide usage to treat a number of cancers in the coming years. It minimizes the side effects that are typically associated with radiation therapies in treating cancers. Among the most frequently reported side effects of internal radiation are symptoms of irritation and obstruction in the post-implant phase. The short half-life of Cesium-131 helps to cut down the severity and duration of these symptoms commonly associated with brachytherapy.