Varian Brachytherapy has proven to be a successful treatment for cancers of the prostate, cervix, endometrium, breast, skin, bronchus, oesophagus and head and neck, as well as soft-tissue sarcomas and several other types of cancer. Brachytherapy treats cancer by placing radioactive sources directly into or next to the area requiring treatment. This enables clinicians to deliver a high dose with a minimal impact on the surrounding healthy tissue.
Brachytherapy primarily uses two different techniques:
Low Dose Rate (LDR) uses a lower-strength radioactive source and is associated with longer treatment times (for the one-time treatment). The most commonly used LDR treatment site is the prostate, the tissue of which is the location for the permanent placement of the tiny radioactive seeds. Historically, LDR has been used in the treatment of other sites such as the GYN and head and neck, where low-activity sources are temporarily placed for several days and then removed.
High Dose Rate (HDR) uses a higher-strength radioactive source contained within an afterloader device. The afterloader delivers the source for a brief period of time to catheters, needles or other appliances placed in the tumour site. Per treatment, the HDR is a much shorter procedure (minutes vs. days) than the LDR, but it does require multiple treatments. Increasingly more common, the HDR techniques have replaced the LDR techniques for most body sites.
Other brachytherapy techniques include the Pulse Dose Rate (PDR) and Image-Guided Brachytherapy (IGBT).
With any radiotherapy technique, the goal is the same: Conform the dose to the size and shape of the target, while limiting the side-effects by sparing the surrounding healthy anatomy. In brachytherapy, the radiation falls off very rapidly from the target area, easily accomplishing this objective.
The oldest form of radiotherapy, brachytherapy now uses the latest in computer and radioactive-source technology. Image-guided brachytherapy (IGBT) combines advanced imaging techniques with advanced brachytherapy procedures, allowing doctors to treat patients quickly and precisely.
Active in the brachytherapy market since 1994, Varian produces a full range of brachytherapy products, including afterloaders, applicators and treatment-planning software.