The oncology centre at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital in Krugersdorp has considerably bolstered its cancer treatment options, with the introduction of high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, an internally delivered form of radiation therapy for the treatment of various kinds of cancers.
“HDR brachytherapy involves the application of a radioactive source in close proximity to malignant tumours in order to destroy them or reduce their size. Used to treat a range of cancers including cervical, uterus, endometrial, and oesophageal, the introduction of this technology at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital provides oncologists with an important tool in the fight against the disease,” says Dr Cindy Aitton, head of Netcare’s Cancer Care division.
Dr Paul Paradza, one of the oncologists at the hospital’s oncology centre, says HDR brachytherapy is highly effective, and can be used as a stand-alone treatment in suitable cases, or in conjunction with other cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and external beam radiotherapy, depending on each particular case.
“HDR brachytherapy may, furthermore, be indicated after cancer surgery, to reduce the risk of the reappearance of cancers in high-risk patients, as well as palliatively, to ease problems such as cough, shortness of breath and pain in patients with advanced lung cancer,” adds Dr Paradza.
“The HDR brachytherapy unit at Netcare Pinehaven Hospital is equipped with a cutting-edge SagiNova HDR Afterloader, which enables clinicians to better spare tissue around diseased sites, and improve local control of disease.”
Dr Paradza explains that the HDR radioactive source is placed inside a slender tube called an applicator, and this is computer-directed to the diseased site to be treated. The source has a high radioactive strength delivering a powerful, targeted dose of ionising radiation safely to a localised area to destroy cancer cells.
“The introduction of HDR brachytherapy brings with it a number of benefits for patients, enabling a more targeted and higher total dose of radiation to be delivered in a shorter time than is possible with external beam radiation treatment [ERBT].
“HDR brachytherapy is, however, not appropriate for use in all cancer cases, and is employed only when the multi-disciplinary treatment team expects it to have benefit for a particular patient. This involves a complete assessment of the patient’s particular circumstances, including such factors as how far advanced the disease is, the location of the tumour, the type of disease involved, and so on,” adds Dr Paradza.
“Netcare Pinehaven Hospital oncology centre, which is served by leading Gauteng radiation oncologists such as Dr Yastira Ramdas, has been providing care to patients since 2016. We are pleased to make this important cancer treatment technology available to patients not only within the region but also from much further afield,” says Netcare Pinehaven Hospital general manager, Marietha van Vuuren.
“Each cancer case is unique and ideally requires a multi-disciplinary team to tailor a treatment approach best suited for each individual patient, in order to ensure that it will be most effective and appropriate.”
“The HDR brachytherapy technology will initially mainly be used treat gynaecological cancers such as cervical and uterine cancers, for which there is a great need in our area. However, we will be expanding its applications to treat other types of cancers in future,” she concludes.