Cutting Edge Prostate Cancer Treatment Improves Cure Rate

August 01, 2018

More than 161,000 American men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and nearly 27,000 will die of the disease. While prostate cancer is one of the most common cancers among American men, it also is very manageable, and often curable. 

Providence Cancer Institute experts now have state-of-the-art technology that brings the promise of cure to more men with prostate cancer. The new radiotherapy technique is called high-dose rate temporary robotic brachytherapy, or HDR. Providence is the first to offer this treatment to men with prostate cancer.

Research shows that a higher radiation dose improves prostate cancer cure rates. The new HDR brachytherapy technique allows physicians to more accurately increase the radiation dose to the cancer from within the prostate without the need for radiation safety precautions.  

“We are very pleased to add HDR brachytherapy to the resources we have available in treating men with prostate cancer at Providence,” said Eric Hansen, M.D., Providence Radiation Oncology. “This new technique offers us more flexibility in planning and in consistently achieving high-quality implants.” 

“Better quality implants means better outcomes for patients, including improved chance for cure and reduced risk of side effects,” added Stephen Bader, M.D. Providence Radiation Oncology.

Drs. Hansen and Bader also are in private practice at The Oregon Clinic in the Radiation Oncology Division.

A new 2017 study found that HDR technique simultaneously improves radiation dose to the prostate and reduces dose to nearby normal tissues when compared to the traditional technique of low-dose rate permanent radioactive seed prostate implant, which has been a common treatment method.

In a traditional LDR implant, radioactive seeds are inserted permanently into the prostate. Sometimes those seeds can shift position after the implant so that the actual dose delivered to the patient may be different than what was originally planned. This may result in under-dosing the prostate or unintended higher dose to normal tissues, such as the bladder or rectum. 

With real-time HDR planning, computer software allows physicians to better tailor the radiation dose precisely at the time of the temporary implant. Because the radioactive source is temporary with HDR, there is no risk of migration of the radioactive seed after the procedure. 

Another significant benefit of the new HDR brachytherapy technique is that there are no radiation safety precautions for patients and families. This is particularly meaningful to men with young children, grandchildren or pregnant family members. In the past with a traditional LDR seed implant, the tiny radioactive seeds would give off radiation for several months and men needed to follow radiation safety precautions for several months. 

The new HDR brachytherapy technique delivers a single, more powerful radiation source to the prostate over several minutes. When the procedure is complete there is no residual radioactivity, so men may resume normal activities without any radiation precautions.  

In addition, because it is more flexible, the new HDR technique also allows physicians to treat men with more advanced prostate cancers who would not be eligible for a traditional LDR seed implant. Finally, recent research studies suggest that some men treated with brachytherapy may be able to eliminate or reduce their need for hormone therapy, thereby reducing side effects of combined modality prostate cancer treatment.  

The new high-dose brachytherapy technique is offered at Providence Cancer Institute with physicians from The Oregon Clinic Radiation Oncology division. 

Learn more about high-dose brachytherapy ›