SMH Adds High-Dose Rate Brachytherapy to Specialized Therapies Available at Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute

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Pictured: Drs. Biagioli and Saigal. Photo courtesy of SMH.

Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is adding a new cancer-fighting technique – high-dose rate brachytherapy -- to the advanced treatment options available at the Brian D. Jellison Cancer Institute. Previous techniques include continuous low-dose brachytherapy that place radioactive seeds inside the body for extended periods of time, requiring patients to remain hospitalized and isolated, often for days, while completing a treatment; in the case of prostate cancer, radioactive seeds often are permanently implanted in the body. That continuous low-dose technique is being replaced with high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy, a newer, accelerated treatment that allows physicians to deliver equivalent doses of radiation in as little as one to four outpatient treatments that last just a few minutes each. Unlike older techniques, the radioactive source is removed after each session, allowing patients to go home the same day and safely be around others, including children and pregnant women. HDR brachytherapy has demonstrated superior outcomes for several types of cancer, including uterine (endometrial) and prostate cancers, Saigal said. Many women who have had surgery to remove endometrial cancer can reduce their risk of recurrence with four brief outpatient treatments, while early-stage prostate cancers can be treated in as little as two sessions, he said. For more advanced tumors, brachytherapy can be combined with external beam radiation therapy to optimize treatment outcomes by delivering more effective doses of radiation therapy to the tumor. Dr. Saigal and radiation oncologist Matthew Biagioli, MD, both fellowship trained in brachytherapy, will administer the HDR treatments in the Jellison Cancer Institute brachytherapy suite on the SMH-Sarasota campus.

Pictured: Drs. Biagioli and Saigal. Photo courtesy of SMH.

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