South Jersey Healthcare’s Department of Radiation Oncology has added High Dose Rate (HDR) brachytherapy, a powerful new treatment that can significantly reduce treatment regimens for various types of cancer. The technique allows for the extremely precise targeting of certain breast tumors, as well as lung and gynecologic cancers.
Unlike external beam radiation which bombards tumors from the outside in, HDR temporarily places the radiation source within the body, in close proximity to the tumor. HDR has also been used to reduce the risk of recurrence in certain skin, head and neck cancers.
When appropriate for the patient, HDR can greatly reduce the duration of treatment. For certain breast cancers (primarily Stage 1), a regimen of external beam radiation may last five to seven weeks. HDR treatment for the same patient would typically take one week. Currently, HDR is indicated for certain forms of early stage breast cancer. SJH’s first HDR patient was treated for skin cancer in late February. Since then, patients have undergone HDR treatment for breast and gynecologic cancer. Certain lung cancers also can be treated with HDR.
The predecessor to HDR, low dose rate (LDR) treatment, requires an inpatient hospital stay. LDR is still the standard of care for certain Gyn cancers. Until recently, area residents had to travel out of the area for HDR treatment.