Hospital Opens HDR Brachytherapy Suite
Until a few months ago, patients having high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy for prostate, breast and other cancers at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital had their treatment in an area that was also used for various other radiation oncology procedures.
With the opening of a dedicated HDR brachytherapy suite at the hospital, that's no longer the case.
"It's a nice, comfortable, aesthetically pleasing room where we can focus exclusively on the patient," says Dr. Stephen King, a radiation oncologist at Moore Regional. "It's a great benefit for our community."
According to Margie Thomas, assistant director of Radiation Oncology, the dedicated HDR suite at Moore Regional is the only one of its kind in the state.
"We used a technology that allowed us to custom-build a shielded enclosure where patients actually receive their treatment as well as a separate area for treatment preparation," she says. "It's a soothing area, and we have done a lot to make it a more relaxing place for our patients."
HDR brachytherapy is a form of internal radiation in which short, precise amounts of high-dose radiation are delivered directly into a tumor site. Using computer guidance, the therapy delivers a high-intensity radiation source with millimeter precision, killing the tumor from the inside out while avoiding injury to surrounding healthy tissue.
"It allows us to deliver a very precise dose of radiation over a short period of time that is safe for the patient and the staff," King says.
Advantages to HDR therapy include:
A shorter course of treatment compared to other types of radiation treatment
Preservation of organ structure and function
Fewer side effects
Knowledge of radiation dose distribution before the treatment is given
Accuracy and precision of tumor-specific radiation dose delivery, which ensures that safe and effective doses are delivered only to the area where it is needed
The Radiation Oncology program at Moore Regional has offered HDR brachytherapy since the fall of 2003, beginning with procedures treating prostate cancer. The program now provides HDR brachytherapy for breast, lung and most gynecologic cancers as well as prostate cancer.
For breast cancer treatment, HDR brachytherapy is delivered using the MammoSite device. This treatment is used for women with early-stage breast cancer who have had a lumpectomy (removal of the cancerous tumor only), and allows a complete course of radiation treatment to be delivered in one week as compared to six weeks for conventional external radiation.
Within a few months, the program will also begin new HDR applications to treat small skin cancers, especially those in cosmetically sensitive areas such as the face, nose, ears and scalp.
"This is a wonderful advantage for patients in our community who don't want surgical intervention in those areas," Thomas says.
The Radiation Oncology staff at Moore Regional Hospital includes three board-certified radiation oncologists and a certified physicist, all with extensive training in HDR brachytherapy procedures. The program was the first in the state to use HDR brachytherapy to treat prostate cancer after Dr. King and a team of Moore Regional urologists and nurses trained directly with the Seattle, Wash., physicians who pioneered the approach.
With a five-year history of offering HDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer treatment, Moore Regional's program is the "most experienced in the Southeast," King says.
Anyone needing more information on high-dose rate brachytherapy at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital can call (800) 213-2384.
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