High-Dose Rate (HDR) Endobronchial Brachytherapy for Lung Cancer

Some lung cancers located near the bronchial tubes — the passages that connect the lungs to the throat — respond best to high doses of radiation for a short time.

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we do this using a method called endobronchial brachytherapy.

What Can I Expect During Endobronchial Brachytherapy?

You will receive endobronchial brachytherapy through the throat.

During your treatment, a radiation oncologist will:

  1. Numb your throat with a spray.
  2. Pass a lighted tube — called a bronchoscope — through your nose and down your throat to the lung.
  3. Pass a temporary a thin plastic tube — called a catheter — through the bronchoscope and secure it to the treatment site.
  4. Remove the scope and attach the tube to the radiation treatment machine, called a remote afterloader.

The afterloader sends the radioactive treatment source to the end of the tube, where it treats the lung tumor for 3 to 10 minutes. Your radiation oncologist will decide how long to treat the tumor.

After the treatment time, the afterloader withdraws the radioactive source. Following a check by the staff, your radiation oncologist will remove the tube.

Most people can leave the hospital after one or two hours of recovery.

What Are the Benefits of Endobronchial Brachytherapy Treatment for Lung Cancer?

Because we place the radiation source next to the affected area of the lung, benefits of treatment include:

  • Minimized radiation exposure of healthy tissue.
  • A higher level of radiation than would be possible with external radiation treatment.
  • No surgical incisions since all the materials go down the nose and throat.
  • Few side effects. Many people may have a sore throat after treatment.

Contact Us About Lung Cancer Care

To learn more about lung cancer care or to make an appointment, you can: