High-Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy is an innovative form of internal radiation therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer. It can be used alone or in combination with external beam radiation therapy. HDR brachytherapy is used to treat patients in the early stages of prostate cancer. This technique may be used an alternative to a surgical procedure called radical prostatectomy.
Because of the location of the prostate gland, it is necessary for radiation therapy to be highly focused so as to avoid possible damage to the urethra and surrounding healthy tissues, which can sometimes cause incontinence or impotence. HDR brachytherapy is a precise method for delivering radiation treatment to prostate cancer patients. The radiation is delivered directly into the tumor, giving the patient a maximum dose of radiation while minimizing exposure to the surrounding organs and tissues.
To begin this treatment, catheters are placed into the prostate using ultrasound image guidance. The use of image guidance enables the radiation oncologist to deliver a precise dose of radiation directly to the prostate gland. There are usually two brief treatments delivered to the patient and the radioactive source is removed each time. Once complete, the catheters are removed and no radiation is left in the body.
For more advanced prostate cancers, HDR brachytherapy is often combined with external beam radiation. Since there is no incision or surgical wound to heal, patients generally recover very quickly. However, they may experience some temporary pain and swelling in the area where the catheters were inserted.
Only your team of urologists and radiation oncologists will be able to determine if HDR brachytherapy will be an effective treatment option for you. In the Pinehurst, NC area the Cancer Center has been offering HDR brachytherapy as a component of a wide variety of treatment options for those patients diagnosed with prostate cancer since 2003 and has the largest HDR prostate treatment program in the state.