High Dose-Rate Brachytherapy

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Brachytherapy has been shown to effectively treat intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancers.

At UVA, we offer the most precise form of high-dose radiation therapy available: high-dose rate brachytherapy (HDRB) with ultrasound image guidance. We’re one of just a few hospitals in the country offering this advanced approach.

The three-pronged method to deliver high-dose rate radiation therapy with focused, rectal-sparing treatment includes:

  • High-dose-rate brachytherapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
  • The use of a prostate-rectal spacer

Benefits of High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy

A landmark clinical trial revealed that using a similar combination approach with brachytherapy and external beam radiation therapy improves cure rates by as much as 20 percent compared to treatment without brachytherapy.

You might also benefit from a treatment that, compared to standard radiation therapy:

  • Is more aggressive and targeted
  • Reduces radiation to your urethra and rectum
  • Delivers better outcomes
  • Has fewer side effects
  • Requires less time devoted to daily radiation therapy
  • Exposes family members to less radioactivity

What This Approach Means for You

Understand more about the three parts of this approach.

High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy

A tiny radioactive source is inserted under robotic guidance at targeted sites in and around your tumor to deliver a high radiation dose. This method makes it hard for cancer cells to multiply. It also minimizes damaging effects to your healthy tissue. The treatment takes less than 2 hours, and there’s no overnight hospital stay.

Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)

This therapy involves 5-10-minute sessions over a few weeks’ time, normally without any pain. We use high-tech equipment to produce radiation beams customized to your treatment plan. These deliver the IMRT in arcs. The beam rotates around you while delivering radiation at various levels of intensity. This high-impact, precise tool protects your healthy tissue while directly targeting your tumor.

Prostate-Rectal Spacer

During the high-dose rate brachytherapy procedure, the doctor also inserts a hydrogel spacer between your prostate and rectum. This spacer:

  • Protects the rectum from being injured during radiation treatment
  • Can’t be felt
  • Completely disappears in about 3 months

We were the first program in the region to use this spacer as part of routine treatment.