Brachytherapy, also known as sealed source radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy is a type of radiotherapy in which a small radiation source
Turkey is a treasure trove of traditions, spices, street food delights and destinations for any intrepid tourist. It’s a mix between the familiar and the exotic, ranging from the bustling streets of Istanbul to the serene and relaxed Roman ruins spread around Turkey’s Western and Southern coast. Turkey is a fairly large country with 75 million inhabitants. The country spreads between Europe and Asia, with 97% of the country on the Asian side – Asian Turkey. Turkey is encircled and enjoys access to three different seas: The Black Sea, The Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. Istanbul is the largest city in Turkey and the largest city in Europe, regarding population – It has over 14 million people.
Turkey’s medical infrastructure has improved greatly beginning with the early 2000s and now is one of the biggest medical tourism hubs in Europe and Asia. Turkey has the largest number of JCI-accredited hospitals, second only to the USA and hospitals are more often than not part of international healthcare groups, following strict European protocols and regulations. Turkey has 28.000 medical institutions spread across the European and Asian side but some of the biggest private hospitals and medical centres are in Istanbul, Ankara, Antalya and Bodrum – these also happen to be some of the best tourist destinations in Turkey.
Bodrum is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkey, with its sandy beaches and small streets littered with traditional shops and elegant restaurants. The town used to be called Halicarnassus, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is one of the World’s Seven Ancient Wonders. Bodrum also features a castle built by the crusaders in the 15th century.
Istanbul is the home of several architectural treasures, including the Blue Mosque. The Blue Mosque was built on the orders of Sultan Ahmed between 1609 and 1616 and the Sultan’s body still resides within the mosque. The high ceiling is lined with more than 20000 handmade ceramic tiles, hence the name – The Blue Mosque.
Pamukkale, meaning “The Cotton Castle” in Turkish is a surreal destination in the country’s western region of Denizli, world renowned for its white terraces with warm spring water. The ancient Greek city of Hierapolis was built over the springs and Pamukkale was a renowned destination in antiquity as well. Tourists can visit the ancient Roman and Greek ruins of the baths, temples and theatres dating to the second century BC.
● If you don’t feel like waiting in a queue, you can get a VISA for Turkey online. The VISA usually costs around $20 for US travellers.
● Turkey’s population is predominantly Islamic so it’s a good idea to wear a headscarf while visiting mosques. Shorts or any other garments that fit under the knee are not prohibited by law but it’s considered good etiquette not to wear shorts for men or short skirts for women.
● You can change any sort of currency into the Turkish Lira – the Turkish currency just about everywhere. Most supermarkets and shops also accept credit cards.
● Roaming fees in Turkey can be somewhat expensive, so it’s a good idea to simply buy a new Turkish SIM card and use it while staying in Turkey.
● Turkey’s international calling code is +90.
● Electrical installations usually operate on 220 volts, 50 Hz and use European style plugs and European style sockets. Four and Five star hotels usually provide North American - 120 volts, 60 Hz sockets as well.
● Driving in Turkey can be a hassle sometimes, but very pleasurable at other times. Roads are usually in good shape and some roads actually lack traffic, so it can be a relaxing experience. In Turkey, people drive on the right, so that’s a detail you will need to keep in mind. In some areas, villagers made cardboard and marker pen signs in order to help lost tourist on their way.
● Renting a car in Turkey is quite simple and cheap. If you have the budget for a full insurance, you should definitely take it – if anything happens, at least you won’t have to worry about money.
● The Turkish Airlines Company, THY offers destinations to just about anywhere in the world with a total of 261 destinations. The company was founded in 1933 and features 285 passenger and cargo planes.
● Turkey uses the metric system which is easy enough to understand – 1 Km = 1000 meters, 1 Kg = 1000 grams, and so on. One mile equals 1.60 Km.
● Turkish people are warm and very hospitable - It is customary for people to hug and kiss both cheeks regardless of their gender.
● Turkish street food is very diverse, from the simple bagel-type snack Simit to the familiar pizza-type Lahmacun, there are tons of variants to just about anything.
● Turkish coffee is world renowned, but it’s also a bit different than say, its American counterpart - It is usually a strong coffee with a rich aroma, served very hot from a small traditional cup. Be careful not to drink any of the coffee grounds still in the cup.
● Turkish delight, as the name suggests, can be a really sweet delight for tourists. It is made from sugar, starch and just about any fruit or aroma imaginable, including walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, dates, lemon, orange, rosewater and many others. Turkish delight is usually served with coffee and it became popular all around the world, including in the Balkans region and as far as Brazil and North America.
Brachytherapy, also known as sealed source radiotherapy or internal radiotherapy is a type of radiotherapy in which a small radiation source is placed inside the body, in proximity to the area requiring treatment.
Brachytherapy has many different uses and can be performed to treat different parts of the body. The most common types of brachytherapy include:
● Brachytherapy for cervical cancer
● Brachytherapy for breast cancer
● Brachytherapy for prostate cancer
● Brachytherapy for uterine cancer
● Brachytherapy for skin cancer
This treatment can be performed alone or in conjunction with other procedures such as chemotherapy, external radiotherapy or cancer surgery.
Brachytherapy has several advantages over other types of radiotherapy or cancer treatments. The brachytherapy procedure allows doctors to treat just certain specific areas affected by cancer. Given the fact that brachytherapy has less side effects than external radiotherapy, the time between each radiation dose is shorter, leaving less time for surviving cancer cells to grow. Also, brachytherapy can effectively treat many types of cancer and its success rate is comparable to cancer surgery or external radiotherapy.
Brachytherapy treatment is recommended for patients suffering from the following types of cancer:
● Eye cancer
● Brain cancer
● Breast cancer
● Bile duct cancer
● Cervical cancer
● Endometrial cancer
● Head and neck cancer
● Lung cancer
● Esophageal cancer
● Pancreatic cancer
● Prostate cancer
● Skin cancer
● Rectal cancer
● Vaginal cancer
Brachytherapy treatment can be used alone or with cancer surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
Certain contraindications related to age, weight and lifestyle may exist, but these are heavily dependent on the brachytherapy treatment’s goal and the area affected by cancer.
An examination from a doctor and a radiation oncologist is necessary before brachytherapy treatment. The oncologist will then set up a treatment plan, taking several details into consideration. Patients may also be required to have X-rays or CTs before the brachytherapy procedure can begin.
The procedure is performed differently, according to the type of cancer the patient suffers from and the desired outcome. Usually, general or local anaesthesia is first administered to the patient.
The radiation implant can also be placed differently:
● It can be placed in a body cavity – the implant containing radioactive material can be placed in the windpipe
● It can be inserted into tissue – an incision is created into the area which needs to be treated and the implant is inserted into it. This technique is usually performed to treat prostate cancer or breast cancer.
There are three different types of brachytherapy, depending on the amount of the treatment length and dose of radiation administered:
● High dose rate brachytherapy
With this technique, the radioactive implant is placed inside the body for a very short period of time, usually around 15-20 minutes. Patients usually undergo this procedure a couple of times every day for up to a week.
● Low dose rate brachytherapy
Patients need to stay in hospital during this procedure. A low dose of radiation is continuously released for a longer period of time – it ranges from a few hours to a few days.
● Permanent brachytherapy
The radioactive implant may be placed inside the body permanently – this is usually performed on patients suffering from prostate cancer.
Local or General anesthetic
Patients may experience some pain and swelling, depending on the brachytherapy technique used and the area treated. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of general anaesthesia.
Risks and complications associated with brachytherapy depend on the treated area.
Brachytherapy side effects can include:
Brachytherapy success rates depend on the area where the cancer is located and its spread – success rates for patients suffering from prostate cancer range from 71 to 95%, 5 years after the procedure.
Patients undergoing permanent brachytherapy will emit low doses of radiation from the treatment area so it is advised to limit time spent with children and pregnant women.