4 April 2016
New South Wales patients with gynaecological and prostate cancers will be able to rest assured that their treatment is standard across the state, with a new initiative being held at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse today.
A High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy Dosimetry Intercomparison day is being held at Lifehouse’s Radiation Therapy department for the nine NSW cancer treatment centres who offer HDR brachytherapy as a cancer treatment option.
Brachytherapy is a crucial element in the treatment of prostate cancer and gynaecological cancers. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Australian men with around eight deaths a day attributed to this cancer. About four Australian women a day die from gynaecological cancers.
HDR brachytherapy involves the placement of plastic catheters into the patient (most commonly the prostate or uterus). A computer-controlled machine then pushes a single, highly active radiation source into the catheters one by one to deliver a therapeutic dose. Because the computer can control how long the radiation source remains in each catheter, the brachytherapy team is able to control the distribution of radiation within the target and minimise the dose to the surrounding healthy tissues.
Lifehouse Physicist Joel Poder says: “This initiative means that every centre in NSW that treats with HDR Brachytherapy will be sending their physicists to Lifehouse with their quality assurance equipment to make sure that all our measurements are the same.
“This ensures that no matter where you are treated in NSW, patients will be given standardised, accurate, high quality care.
“This initiative is the first of its kind in NSW for brachytherapy.”
Dr Duncan Butler, Radiotherapy manager at the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency says: “This is a great initiative as there is currently no official dose audit programme for brachytherapy.
“This is another way of providing confidence that the radiation dose is accurately delivered by each radiotherapy facility.”
Brachytherapy offers a significant benefit for men with prostate cancer. For certain stages of prostate cancer brachytherapy, when combined with external radiation in the form of a brachytherapy ‘boost’, has been shown to improve the likelihood of cure. A recent study from the Lifehouse prostate brachytherapy team reported a five year freedom from relapse of 93.7% for intermediate, and 76.0% for high risk patients.
Centres taking part are:
1. Chris O`Brien Lifehouse
2. Prince of Wales Hospital
3. Royal North Shore Hospital
4. Canberra Hospital
5. St. George Hospital
6. Radiation Oncology Centres Wahroonga
8. Westmead Hospital
9. Calvary Mater Hospital Newcastle