Brachytherapy

Brachytherapy: A Prostate Cancer Treatment Option

While prostate cancer is the No. 1 solid-organ cancer among American men — and the second most fatal, after lung cancer — dramatic improvements in advanced radiotherapy techniques over the past two decades have triggered a steady rise in survival.

In 1998, Monmouth becomes the first hospital in the region to offer two advanced radiation implant therapies for the treatment of prostate cancer. That same year, Monmouth's pioneering role in the delivery of HDR brachytherapy earned it the first of two annual Gallo Awards for Outstanding Cancer Research from The Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, which treats intermediate and high-risk prostate cancer, involves implanting radioactive sources into the targeted area and immediately removing them after each treatment session. In contrast, permanent seed brachytherapy (PSB) for men with early-stage prostate cancer involves the placement of low-energy radiation seeds that remain in the prostate for several months to deliver treatment.

Treatment of prostate cancer depends on several factors, including the age and health of the patient, the stage of the cancer and the aggressiveness of the cells. After weighing these factors, a treatment plan is developed that best suits the patient's needs and gets him back on the road to recovery.

In 1998, Monmouth became the first hospital in the region to introduce HDR brachytherapy, which reduces the overall treatment time for prostate cancer compared to standard radiotherapy by one third — earning it a Gallo Award for Outstanding Cancer Research from the Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Today it remains the only hospital in southern and central New Jersey to offer the

HDR brachytherapy protocol has been proven to be particularly effective against aggressive cancers and spares men the urinary, bowel or sexual problems so often associated with other forms of prostate cancer treatment. Using 3-D conformal radiation therapy that ensures radiation delivered is confined to the prostate, the high-dose rate radiation implant is inserted through a minimally invasive procedure performed under epidural anesthesia by a team consisting of a radiation oncologist and a urologist. The patient then receives three 10- to 15-minute radiation treatments during a 23-hour hospital stay.