Brachytherapy – targeting Cancer from the Inside Out
Low Dose Rate (LDR) Prostate Brachytherapy
Not all cancer tumors require surgery. Brachytherapy, a less invasive treatment, offers new hope to cancer patients. This state-of-the-art procedure fights cancer from the inside out, implanting tiny sources of radioactivity or radioactive seeds directly into the tumor using an ultrasound-guided needle. Unlike external beam radiation that directs high-energy x-ray beams through the skin, for some types of cancers brachytherapy can help avoid healthy tissue and in some cases doesn’t require repeat treatments. The seeds release radiation over several months until they are no longer radioactive.
High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy
For some more aggressive cancers, there is a higher dose rate brachytherapy option for prostate, gynecological, and breast tumors. With HDR brachytherapy, a hollow tube called a catheter or a special applicator is placed directly in or very close to the area of disease. This is often accomplished with an outpatient surgical procedure along with ultrasound and CT image guidance. From there, a single small source of radioactivity sealed in a capsule is introduced into the catheter or applicator to irradiate the cancer. The radioactive source is secure on the end of a wire and is introduced and withdrawn from special machine called a HDR after-loader. The treatment is complete in a matter of minutes, after which, the catheter or applicator, and the radioactive source, is immediately removed from the patient.
Treating Many Types of Cancer
Brachytherapy is being utilized at St. Elizabeth Hospital to treat breast, gynecological, and prostate cancers, sometimes in conjunction with external beam radiation. Brachytherapy can be an effective option for a variety of cancers in which the disease is confined to a specific location and has not yet spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body.
Early Detection is Crucial
When cancer is caught early, before it spreads beyond the initial tumor, brachytherapy provides excellent results without invasive surgery or chemotherapy.
High Dose Rate (HDR) Breast Brachytherapy
Today, women with early-stage breast cancer are able to treat their cancer effectively and preserve their breasts through an option called breast conservation therapy. Breast conservation therapy begins with a lumpectomy, the surgical removal of the cancerous tumor. The lumpectomy is generally followed by four to six weeks of external beam radiation therapy during which radiation is directed at the whole breast. This traditional combination of surgery and radiation works well to fight breast cancer.
For some women, the recommended course of radiation therapy will be delivered using High Dose Rate (HDR) Breast Brachytherapy instead of a long course of external beam radiation therapy. HDR breast brachytherapy delivers radiation from inside the lumpectomy cavity (the space that is left after the tumor is removed) directly to the tissue surrounding the cavity where cancer is most likely to recur. A special applicator is placed in the lumpectomy cavity at the time of surgery. The course of HDR radiation is initiated soon after as an outpatient procedure and is completed in just five days. The special HDR applicators; MammoSite® and SAVI® are both minimally invasive methods of delivering internal radiation therapy following a lumpectomy for breast cancer. From diagnosis to recovery, St. Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Center provides more choices than ever for the area’s most innovative breast cancer treatment, in just five days of treatment.
Talk to your doctor to see if you might be a candidate for this treatment option.
For more information on the HDR breast brachytherapy program, call the . Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Center at 920.738.2184.
The Treatment Planning Process
Before beginning a radiation treatment course, the doctor uses 3D images from a combination of scanning technologies (such as CT, PET, and MRI) and a special treatment planning software application to establish the precise location of the treatment volume (tumor) and any sensitive organs or normal structures to be avoided. The doctor then decides how much radiation the tumor should receive, as well as acceptable levels for surrounding normal structures. The treatment planning system calculates the appropriate pattern, position and intensity of the radiation to be delivered, to match the doctor’s prescription.
Precision and comfort for all shapes and sizes
St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh offer Radiation Oncology departments that have the latest CT technology with multi-slice large-bore CT simulators for higher quality and faster imaging which is critical to the radiation treatment planning process. This advanced equipment offers top precision and comfort, with the ability to accommodate patients of any size up to 500 pounds.
Ask your cancer care team how radiation treatment at St. Elizabeth Hospital or at the Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center can benefit your health, your family, your schedule, and your peace of mind.
TomoTherapy Hi-Art Linear Accelerator
The TomoTherapy Hi-Art system is one of the most advanced and versatile radiation treatment delivery systems commercially available for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers. Unlike traditional radiation therapy equipment, the Hi-Art high energy photon beam doubles as an on-board CT scanner that allows true CT images of a patient’s anatomy to be created with the same physical equipment next used to treat the patient, thereby bringing clinicians unprecedented confidence that tumors will receive their intended dosage from one day to the next.
The TomoTherapy Hi·Art treatment system looks very similar to a conventional CT scanner. The Hi·Art treatment system delivers hundreds of tiny, precisely targeted, high energy radiation beams in a continuous 360º treatment pattern, a method called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
To find out if you are a candidate for TomoTherapy, talk to your physician about your options, or call the St. Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Center at 920.738.2184.
TrueBeam Linear Accelerator
World-Class Precision, Close to Home
The TrueBeam Linear Accelerator is the latest technology in the field of radiation therapy, providing unparalleled precision and performance. The TrueBeam treatment delivery system ensures that patients can receive the best treatment close to home without the inconvenience, time commitment, cost, and fatigue of traveling to receive their cancer treatment. The TrueBeam treatment delivery system employs an advanced integrated on-board image guidance system for better accuracy and precision in delivering targeted radiation treatments. The TrueBeam offers the physician the flexibility and choice of 4 photons energies, 5 electron energies, and is capable of the most sophisticated delivery methods including volumetric arc therapy (VMAT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). The TrueBeam’s capabilities and range of treatment options allows physicians to customize radiation treatment to achieve the best outcomes. This new technology, coupled with our highly trained clinical staff and physicians, ensures patients at St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center receive the highest quality of care.
Early Detection is Crucial
In the beginning stages, cancer often has no symptoms. It’s important to get regular screenings. To schedule yours today, call your primary care doctor or the department of Radiation Oncology at St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Michael D. Wachtel Cancer Center at Mercy Medical Center at the numbers listed below.