Discharge Instructions for Brachytherapy

Discharge Instructions for Brachytherapy

You had a procedure called brachytherapy, an internal radiation treatment for cancer. A tube (called a catheter) was placed in or near your tumor during surgery. Your doctor delivered a radioactive seed to your tumor through this tube. The tube was removed after you completed therapy. You are not radioactive during your therapy. You will not expose others to radiation. This sheet gives general guidelines for taking care of yourself after you go home.


  • Plan for periods of rest during the day. You may feel tired from your treatment.
  • Ask your provider what activities you can and can't do. This will depend on the size and location of your tumor. It will also depend on any surgeries that you've had.
  • If you are on bed rest, do exercises to keep your blood flowing. Turn often in your bed. Move your feet up and down and side to side for a few minutes at a time.
  • Do the coughing and deep breathing exercises you learned in the hospital. Do them several times a day.

Other home care

  • Eat a normal healthy diet, unless your provider gives you other instructions.
  • Take all medicines exactly as directed. Only begin taking aspirin or blood thinners again if your provider says it is ok to do so.
  • If you have a bandage or dressing, care for it according to your provider's directions.
  • Don't be alarmed by mild redness and hair loss in the treated area. This is a common side effect. But if your skin becomes very irritated, call your provider.
  • Don't scratch the treated area as skin tissue may be sensitive.
  • Don't use skin lotions or powders unless recommended by your provider.

Take care of the skin around the area where your catheter was inserted:

  • Wash the area with mild soap and lukewarm water and gently pat it dry.
  • Protect the affected area from extreme heat or cold. This includes hot showers, hot water bottles, heating pads, or ice packs.
  • Avoid clothing that causes friction or rubbing on the skin.

Tell your provider at your follow-up visit if you have any of the following:

  • Trouble eating your usual diet or having a bowel movement
  • Red, swollen, or tender areas of skin
  • Peeling skin that leaves the treated area sore and moist


Make a follow-up appointment as directed by your provicer.

When to call your provider

Call your provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4?F (38?C) or higher, or chills
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Cough or trouble catching your breath
  • Severe discomfort in the treatment area that is not relieved by pain medicine
  • Pus-like or bad-smelling drainage from the catheter site
  • Chest pain
  • Severe upset stomach or vomiting
  • New or unusual lumps, bumps, or swelling