Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center is offering a new, standard-of-care option for patients called high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, a proven treatment option for many gynecologic and other dangerous cancers.
The American Cancer Society estimates 168,850 new cases of gynecologic cancers, including ovarian, cervical, endometrial, vaginal, vulvar and uterine cancer, will be diagnosed this year. HDR brachytherapy will be the standard used across the country to treat many of these diseases. The technology is also effective in treating other cancers such as breast, prostate, skin, sarcoma, and head and neck cancers. HDR brachytherapy is a powerful form of internally-delivered radiation. It is performed by placing radioactive sources in or near tumor sites and allows for the delivery of higher doses of radiation to more-specific areas of the body. This precise application of localized radiation ensures the maximum dosage to cancerous tissue while reducing the exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and can be tailored to individual patients and cancer sites.
“The benefit of high-dose rate brachytherapy is that it allows us to accurately target and treat cancerous tissue, especially for some that may be less sensitive to externally delivered forms of radiation therapy. HDR gives us the power to treat cancer at high doses while controlling and minimizing any impact to nearby organs or healthy tissue,” said Dr. Daniel Bourgeois, radiation oncologist, Mary Bird Perkins TGMC Cancer Center. “It’s typically done as an outpatient treatment, and provides us with the opportunity to precisely and accurately focus on an area to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients.”
During HDR brachytherapy, small hollow catheters and other internal devices can be temporarily inserted into body cavities or directly into tumor tissue using imaging technology, such as MRI and ultrasound, to direct where radiation is needed. Radioactive sources are then sent through these catheters and devices to internally deliver treatment to the desired area. After several minutes the sources are removed, leaving no radioactive material in the body.
HDR brachytherapy is generally performed as an outpatient procedure with patients returning home and to their normal activities that day. Depending on the needs of each patient, HDR brachytherapy may be delivered once or in several sessions but is generally a shorter course of treatment than conventional external beam radiation therapy. The treatment may be administered alone or in conjunction with external beam radiation and can even be used during or after surgery to decrease the risk of local cancer recurrence.
For more information on HDR brachytherapy and how to access the treatment in the Houma area please visit marybird.org/tgmc.
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