New, real-time treatments will improve patient outcomes for prostate cancer and help lower the time and expense of more traditional radiation therapies, according to companies that have recently developed devices to enhance brachytherapy for prostate cancer.
Interstitial brachytherapy allows doctors to implant roughly 100 radiation sources, or "seeds," directly into the prostate gland with a needle. Current therapies treat the gland as a whole, but this approach can risk exposing surrounding areas such as the rectal wall, urethra and bladder to radiation. The new therapies use ultrasound for guidance to site the seeds more precisely.
Varian Medical Systems, based in Palo Alto, Calif., has introduced the Vitesse 2.0 ultrasound-based system, which allows doctors to establish a clear and thorough treatment plan for high dose rate (HDR) prostate cancer procedures and expedite the brachytherapy process.
Wakefield, Massachusetts-based Implant Sciences has produced its own treatment planning system designed to provide surgeons with greater control when embedding seeds that emit variable levels of radiation. The I-Plant treatment planning system (TPS) calculates where to place seeds in the gland, at which radiation levels. It also offers a detailed look at the radiation pattern across the prostate by breaking down seed placement into eight separate visual representations.
Both systems run on a laptop and are estimated to cost hospitals between $35,000 and $70,000, depending on accessories and software options included.
Long Beach Memorial Center in California and Springfield Regional Cancer Center in Ohio are two of the hospitals that have benefited from its device, Varian said. While Springfield Regional had been using HDR treatments for breast and gynecological forms of cancer, "we have held off doing prostate because I have never felt CT is precise enough for HDR," said radiation oncologist Sandra Victor.