Internally Administered Radiation Speeds Cancer Treatment Protects Tissues

Patients with Breast, Gynecological Cancer Have Local Access

ThedaCare patients with breast, cervical or endometrial cancers have the option of a radiation treatment that works from within one’s body to place a high dose of radiation inside the tumor area. Patients receive High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy via a surgically placed or physician-inserted applicator. The major advantage of precisely targeted brachytherapy is that it affects less surrounding healthy tissue.

“HDR brachytherapy also gives patients a treatment option that better fits their lifestyle,” said Anne Christopher, RN, program coordinator for radiation oncology at ThedaCare Cancer Care. “In most cases, the overall course of treatment is faster and requires fewer visits compared to traditional external beam radiation treatments.” Breast cancer HDR brachytherapy treatments are given twice daily for five days, compared to several weeks of once-daily traditional radiation treatments.

Marge Woodfill, 68, of Appleton, opted for HDR brachytherapy earlier this month after surgery to remove a cancerous lump in her breast. An applicator was surgically placed in her breast prior to her twice-daily five-day treatment. “I chose the high dose rate option because I knew that as soon as my treatments were complete, the sooner I’d feel like I was getting my life back,” she said.

HDR brachytherapy can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. Patients are not radioactive during or after the treatment. Side effects of radiation treatment are minimized compared to traditional delivery methods, and patients generally resume their everyday activities within a few days after treatment is complete.

“As a patient, I was always given a choice,” Woodfill said. “At a time when I felt like I’d lost control of my body, the HDR option empowered me to make a decision for me and about me. I’m very glad my treatment is over, but I can honestly say that I already miss the amazing radiation oncology people at ThedaCare Cancer Care,” she said.

For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 7,000 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 34 clinics in 14 counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. For more information, visit or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.