HDR Procedure Available for Gynecological Cancers

Southern Ohio Medical Center now has the technology available to cut the treatment for gynecologic cancers down from days to hours. High Dose Rate Brachytherapy, currently being used at the SOMC Cancer Center in the treatment of some forms of breast and skin cancer, is now available to women with gynecological cancer and soon will be available for the treatment of lung cancer.

“In the past, women suffering from gynecological cancer would be subjected to at least three days stay in the hospital, lying flat on their back with no movement and no visitors due to the radiation emission in the room,” said Dr. Li-Fen Lien Chang, Senior Medical Director of Radiation Oncology Services. “This procedure will eliminate the lengthy, uncomfortable hospital stay and minimize the number of treatments.”

Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation treatment where radioactive sources are placed on or into cancer tissue. High dose rate (HDR) is a technically advanced form of brachytherapy. A high intensity radiation source is delivered with millimeter precision under computer guidance directly into the tumor killing it from the inside out while avoiding injury to surrounding normal healthy tissue. In gynecological treatments, a vaginal cylinder or a tandem and ovoids are comfortably inserted directly inside the woman’s anatomy and are used to administer the radiation.

“Our team takes a CT scan of the patient prior to the treatment to help create a specialized treatment plan specific to that patient’s needs. The treatment takes approximately 30-90 minutes depending upon the size and complexity of the implant and the activity of the source,” she explained.

Chang said the procedure is outpatient and is more accurate in delivering treatment because it is so focused and allows for a much higher, very localized dose of exposure that is designed to kill the remaining cancer cells at the site.

“Because of the success with this procedure, we will be looking toward the use of HDR brachytherapy for the treatment of lung cancer,” she said.

For more information on this new technology, visit Southern Ohio Medical Center’s Cancer Center on the web at www.somc.org/cancer