High Dose Radiation Therapy Quick and Effective
New Britain [September 19 2005] -
Women who once needed hospitalization to treat their endometrial cancer can now rapidly receive their radiation as an outpatient, thanks to a therapy available at New Britain General Hospital.
The Hospital is now offering high-dose rate brachytherapy in its George Bray Cancer Center. In addition to making this quicker and easier for patients, the therapy also delivers high doses of radiation to the targeted area, while sparing surrounding tissues from exposure.
“Treatment that used to involve inpatient hospitalization for two to three days now is done in three outpatient sessions lasting about 10 to 15 minutes each,” says Neal Goldberg, MD, director of radiation therapy. “In addition, this therapy more precisely targets the affected tissues, without damaging unaffected areas.”
Some women who undergo surgery to remove cancers of the endometrium—the mucus membrane lining the uterus--also receive a course of radiation to treat any remaining cancerous cells. Previously, this involved an inpatient stay and use of radiation from an external source.
Now treatments can be received as an outpatient using a radioactive source the size of a grain of rice, which is introduced into the vagina through a catheter and positioned right next to the vaginal wall.
“This allows us to get very close to the tumor,” Goldberg said. The source is introduced into the body via thin catheters and its positioning and movement is computer controlled assuring accurate delivery. This minimizes radiation exposure to the patient and eliminates staff exposure.
“We manipulate a variety of factors to get the optimum dosage,” said George Pavlonnis, the Center’s physicist.
Another innovative technique used in conjunction with this treatment involves use of a CT scanner for dose calculation, before the first treatment, and after each subsequent treatment. This allows the physician to gauge the effectiveness of the dose positioning.
In addition to the current treatment of endometrial cancers, Goldberg said high-dose brachytherapy will soon be used at New Britain General to treat cancers of the breast, lungs, and esophagus.
Contact: Helayne Lightstone, 860-224-5470
HCC Corporate Communications
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