Doctors among first to offer radioactive implant for prostate cancer
Doctors in Southampton are among the first in the UK to be offering a radioactive implant to treat patients with prostate cancer.
Led by consultant clinical oncologist Dr Catherine Heath, high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy offers fast precise radiation therapy directly to the prostate gland.
A computer controlled machine, called a microselectron, pushes a single radioactive pellet into the prostate gland.
This temporary insertion of high dose radiation for a few minutes at a time allows the delivery of the maximum amount of radiation straight to the cancer cells, while minimising exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
This is given in combination with a short course of external beam radiotherapy.
Dr Heath said: “There is growing evidence that brachytherapy combined with external beam radiotherapy results in higher cure rates for men with prostate cancer because it allows us to get a much higher dose of radiation to the prostate gland than is achievable with any other form of radiotherapy.
“This direct approach is also beneficial as it offers protection to nearby organs such as the bladder and rectum.”
Previously, patients who required standard radiotherapy for prostate cancer had a course of 37 treatments over eight weeks.
With HDR brachytherapy, patients have one treatment as a day case followed by 15 external beam radiotherapy treatments within four weeks.
Patients are able to return to normal activity within a few days of the implant and are not radioactive, so pose no risk to others.
HDR brachytherapy is suitable for men whose cancer has not spread outside the prostate gland to other parts of the body. It cannot be used on patients who have had a previous transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).