Advanced technologies are currently in use in the St Agnes Cancer Center that enable image-guided radiotherapy treatments.These technologies represent a continuum of advances allowing sophisticated treatments available only in select centers across the nation.
Image-guided Prostate Brachytherapy
Prostate cancer is the most commonly occurring cancer in men today, second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer-related death in men. The use of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test has lead to earlier detection of prostate cancer, resulting in a greater number of candidates for prostate brachytherapy , or radioactive seed implantation.
Brachytherapy is the placing of rice-sized, radioactive pellets, or seeds, directly into the prostate using needles guided by realtime transrectal US imaging. The optimal number and location of the seeds are determined in the operating room by the oncologist using specialized treatment planning software. Typically, rows of seeds are deposited uniformly throughout the prostate so that the radiation can cover the entire gland. The metallic seeds emit lowenergy radiation that is highly absorbed in the prostate gland close to the seed. With the correct placement of seeds, a very high dose of radiation can be given throughout the prostate gland with little exposure of the healthy tissue and organs surrounding the prostate. Radiation is gradually emitted from the seeds over a period of six to 12 months, after which they become completely inert and can safely remain in the prostate for the rest of the patient s life. The procedure is well-tolerated by most men, with typically no long-term side effects.