What is Brachytherapy?
Most people are familiar with radiation therapy as a common type of cancer therapy. In fact, over 50% of all people who suffer from cancer will be treated with radiation, which works by aiming high-energy rays at cancer cells to destroy them. Using high-precision targeting, radiation therapy minimizes harm to healthy tissues that surround the tumor.
There are two primary methods of delivering radiotherapy: external beam radiation and internal radiotherapy. Brachytherapy is the most common type of internal radiation therapy, and it can be used alone or in conjunction with other cancer therapies.
Brachytherapy Treatment Explained
To administer brachytherapy, a radioactive source must be implanted within your body – inside or next to the cancer. The placement of the radioactive material depends on many factors, such as the location and stage of the cancer, your overall health condition and your treatment goals. For example, to deliver internal radiation therapy, the radioactive device may be inserted through a body opening or in body tissue.
A variety of brachytherapy devices may be used, such as balloons, wires and tiny seeds (the size of a grain of rice). Different techniques assist with the implantation, which can be done with needles or specialized applicators – by hand or with the aid of an electronic device. Imaging equipment such as an US or CT scanner may be used to make sure that the device is implanted in the most effective spot.
Where is Advanced Brachytherapy Given in Israel?
Brachytherapy isn’t new, but it’s come a long way since it was first used in 1903, for the irradiation of skin cancer. Due to huge technological leaps and the development of modern imaging techniques, brachytherapy can now be optimized. Sheba Medical Center in Israel is a prime example of a leading medical institution that offers personalized, high-precision brachytherapy.
At Sheba, brachytherapy is administered at a specialized radiation and radiotherapy division of the Cancer Center, which is staffed by premier global experts in the field and treats thousands of new patients yearly.
What Are the Benefits of Brachytherapy at Sheba?
- MRI-TRUS guided brachytherapy, an innovative system developed by Sheba’s Computer Imaging Lab used for navigating within the body to precisely place the radioactive devices. As a result, tumors can be targeted with maximum accuracy and minimal side effects of damage to healthy surrounding tissue.
- A specialized operating room dedicated to brachytherapy, customized with intraoperative, real-time 3D imaging equipment to increase the effectiveness of the treatment.
- SMART SEED high-dose radiation therapy (HDR) is offered, in which a high dose of radioactive material is implanted temporarily. It offers a powerful method of internal radiotherapy to destroy many types of cancers.
- World-renowned cancer specialists who are experienced in brachytherapy.
Who Administers Internal Radiotherapy in Israel?
Prof. Zvi Symon, Director of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Sheba, completed his fellowship in radiation oncology with a focus on brachytherapy for prostate cancer and gynecological tumors. Currently, he is working on a program of HDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer, using cutting-edge MR imaging for implant placement.
Dr. Shira Felder, Head of the Gynecologic Oncology Service, is a world-renowned specialist in all forms of brachytherapy. Her particular clinical expertise includes gynecologic tumors and brachytherapy, including intracavitary and interstitial brachytherapy.
What Types of Cancer Are Treated with Brachytherapy in Israel?
At Sheba, cancer experts are highly qualified and experienced in delivering internal radiation therapy for:
Cervical cancer: This cancer originates in the cervix, the lowest part of the uterus that connects with the vagina. Worldwide, over 500,000 new cases are diagnosed every year, making it the fourth most common cancer in women. Radiotherapy is often used as part of the treatment program.
Prostate cancer: This is one of the most common cancers in men. When detected early and still confined to the prostate gland, the prognosis is often good. If the cancer progresses, brachytherapy can be an effective option.
Ocular melanoma: Very rare, this cancer affects the eye and can be difficult to detect. Typically, brachytherapy is used to irradiate the tumor.