High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among American men with about one in seven men diagnosed during his lifetime. The Oregon Clinic Radiation Oncologist Dr. Eric Hansen is on the cutting edge of treating prostate cancer, offering a new treatment called high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. He expanded the practice to include HDR brachytherapy because it can improve cure rates and reduce side effects compared to traditional treatments.

Currently, a common prostate cancer treatment is low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, which places permanent radioactive seeds in the prostate that release radiation for a few months. LDR brachytherapy can be an effective treatment but is not without frustrations. Because of the radioactivity men treated with a traditional LDR implant must follow radiation safety precautions for about two to three months. Also, radioactive seeds can move from their intended position after the implant due to swelling and sometimes that can increase side effects.

New research shows that HDR brachytherapy is an effective alternative to LDR brachytherapy, with shorter, stronger, and more precise radiation treatment. During HDR brachytherapy, a single small radioactive source is temporarily implanted into the prostate under robotic control while the patient is under anesthesia. A computer is used to control the exact location and duration of the radiation to precisely target the prostate cancer. The procedure takes only about two to three hours and the radiation treatment itself is over in about ten minutes. After treatment, there is no radioactivity left in the patient’s body so there is no risk of second-hand exposure to friends and family. Also, there is no risk of radioactive seed migration since the implant is temporary, not permanent as with LDR brachytherapy.

Introducing HDR prostate brachytherapy reflects the deep commitment of The Oregon Clinic and its providers to be on the forefront of evidence-based medicine offering our patients the most effective, least invasive treatments available.

How HDR Brachytherapy Works

With HDR brachytherapy, the radiation oncologist and computer software control the location and duration of source delivery, making it possible to tailor the dose precisely to the tumor. The catheter(s) and radioactive source are placed temporarily inside the body and are removed after the appropriate amount of radiation has been delivered.

During Treatment

The computer-controlled robotic afterloader delivers the radiation source to the tumor through a small hollow tube called a catheter, which has been placed in the appropriate location in the body. This procedure may require anesthesia and a surgical procedure. Your doctor and team will control this treatment from outside the treatment room, monitoring you as the therapy is being given. Radiation is usually delivered in multiple doses, once or twice per day, or once or twice per week, for 10 to 30 minutes per treatment.

Learn more about Radiation Oncology at The Oregon Clinic