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Healthcare Solutions: Brachytherapy


Treating cancer from the inside

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 minimal impact on surrounding healthy tissues.

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, which involves permanent placement of tiny radioactive seeds in tissue in the prostate. Historically LDR has been used in the treatment of other sites such as gynaechological and head & neck, where low activity sources are temporarily placed for several days & 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, HDR is a much shorter procedure (minutes vs. days) than LDR, but it does require multiple treatments. Increasingly more common, HDR techniques have replaced LDR techniques for most body sites.

Other brachytherapy techniques include Pulse Dose Rate (PDR) and Image Guided Brachytherapy (IGBT).

With any radiotherapy technique, the goal is the same: to conform the dose to the size and shape of the target while limiting side effects by sparing the surrounding healthy anatomy. In brachytherapy, 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.


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