High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Center
- Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center
- Comprehensive Cancer Center Chemotherapy & Radiation Therapy
- High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Center
- Radiation Therapy Services
For more information about High Dose Rate Brachytherapy, please call the High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Department at 510-869-8875.
The High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Center's experienced team of Board Certified Radiation Oncologists, physicists, radiation therapists and nurses deliver a technically advanced form of radiation treatment, called High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy. HDR Brachytherapy as provided by Alta Bates Summit can be an effective treatment for specific cancers including prostate, breast, and gynecological cancers.
The term brachytherapy comes from the Greek word brachy which means “short distance.” Unlike external beam radiation, which treats the tumor from the outside in, high dose rate brachytherapy treats cancer from the inside out by using a sealed radioactive source inserted into hollow treatment catheters or specially designed applicators placed into or a short distance from the tumor.
Under controlled conditions a computerized robot positions the source with millimeter precision at multiple points throughout the array of implanted catheters or the channels of the intracavitary applicator to give a high dose to a limited volume. This significantly avoids normal, healthy tissues, delivering the treatment directly to the cancer site. After treatment the catheters and or applicators are removed. No radioactive material is left inside the patient.
HDR Prostate Brachytherapy
In this method, long narrow flexible plastic catheters are surgically implanted into the prostate. This is done in the operating room under anesthesia. After observation in the recovery room the patient is transported to the Brachytherapy Center where a CT scan is done to give a virtual image of the implanted catheters and the surrounding anatomy. Using this information, a treatment plan is created to locate the treatment points throughout the array of catheters.
Once the calculations are completed the patient is moved to the treatment room and the catheters are attached to the treatment machine called an afterloader. This computerized robot runs a miniature radiation source into the each of the catheters in sequence. The dwell positions and dwell times are programmed to lay down an optimized dose to the target and avoid the adjacent normal tissues.
Treatment lasts about twenty minutes. Then the machine is unhooked and the patient stays overnight in the hospital. The next treatment is in the morning and a third that afternoon. Then all the catheters are removed and the patient goes home. There is nothing left inside the patient. This entire process is typically repeated a week later for low risk disease and may be combined with external beam radiation for high risk disease.
HDR Breast Brachytherapy
Breast brachytherapy is a form of accelerated partial breast irradiation or APBI that delivers radiation from inside the breast, via a device placed through a surgical incision. The advantage is that radiation is delivered only to the tissue immediately surrounding the tumor cavity, reducing treatment time from 6-7 weeks to just 5 days and sparing more healthy tissue.
At our center we use the SAVI applicator which is a single entry breast brachytherapy device that allows physicians to customize radiation based on patient specific anatomy. The applicator is implanted into the lumpectomy cavity following surgery, typically as an office procedure. The applicator’s unique strut based, open architecture design enables physicians to precisely target radiation where it is needed most wile minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.
Partial breast radiation with SAVI addresses two key issues in breast cancer radiation treatment: exposure to healthy tissue and length of treatment. SAVI’s multiple catheters and open-architecture design allow for the precise delivery of radiation. This enables physicians to optimally spare normal tissues, which can improve outcomes and increase the number of women who may be eligible for breast conservation therapy (BCT).
For women who face hurdles completing an extended treatment schedule, SAVI reduces radiation treatment time from several weeks to just 5 days. Many women consider this accelerated schedule to be a significant benefit.
Intracavitary HDR Brachytherapy Application
In this method, a specially designed multichannel applicator is placed into a body cavity (e.g. vagina) in our outpatient clinic under conscious sedation. X rays or CT scans are then done to see the applicator and delineate the target and the surrounding normal tissue. Using this information, a treatment plan is created to locate the treatment points throughout the channels of the applicator.
Once the calculations are completed the patient is moved to the treatment room and the catheters are attached to the treatment machine called an afterloader. This computerized robot runs a miniature radiation source into the each of the channels in sequence. The dwell positions and dwell times are programmed to lay down an optimized dose to the target and avoid the adjacent normal tissues. Treatment lasts about twenty minutes. Then the applicator is removed and the patient goes home. Typically this treatment is three to six outpatient visits and may be combined with external beam radiation treatments.
The High Dose Rate Brachytherapy Center coordinates with a multi-disiplinary team of Alta Bates Summit physicians to create an integrated care strategy for your treatment if multiple levels of treatment are required.