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Brachy is derived from the Greek word for 'close' as in nearby, and this term is used to describe the positioning of radioactive sources close to a tumour to deliver a very high radiation due to proximity. The diseases which are most commonly treated by radiation brachytherapy are carcinoma of the cervix (neck of the womb), and carcinoma of the tongue. The perceived advantages of this approach is that the isotopes deliver a very high dose to the cancer but the surrounding normal tissues are spared because he radiation dose 'falls off' according to the inverse square law (the law that dictates that if you are in a ship at sea and you double your distance from a lighthouse, then the intensity of the lighthouse beam reduces to one quarter). Sometimes this technique is used to boost therapy to a breast primary cancer.

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