Simon Buus, MD at the Department of Oncology, treating the first Danish patient with internal radiotion therapy (photo: Tonny Foghmar).
A middle-aged man with prostate cancer recurrence is the first patient in Denmark to be treated with internal radiation therapy.
Plastic needles with a radioactive source are inserted directly into the prostate cancer tumour using advanced imaging techniques. This is the principle behind a new internal radiation therapy – or focal brachytherapy, which has recently been given to the first patient in Denmark at Aarhus University Hospital.
The patient is a man in his mid-50s who was diagnosed with prostate cancer nine years ago. At that time, he was treated with conventional radiation therapy, which made the tumour disappear. Recently, the cancer came back. This time the doctors at Aarhus University Hospital have treated him with a new internal radiation therapy – focal brachytherapy, which is tested in patients with prostate cancer recurrence.
- Focal brachytherapy is a more precise and gentle treatment compared with other types of radiation therapy. The technique is very precise, which reduces side effects and patients can hopefully maintain sexual function and avoid major voiding problems, says Simon Buus, MD at Department of Oncology, Aarhus University Hospital.
- We hope we can cure 50% of the patients treated with brachytherapy.
Needles with radioactivity
Brachytherapy is performed by inserting hollow plastic needles with a radioactive source into the prostate cancer tumour. MR and PET/CT scans can identify the precise location of the tumour. The doctor uses these images to guide the placement of the needles in the prostate.
In Denmark, approximately 4,500 patients are annually diagnosed with prostate cancer. Of these, 600 patients receive conventional radiation therapy. One third will experience recurrence and are offered treatment again. This means that 200 patients annually are candidates for this new type of internal radiation therapy.
- These patients cannot be treated with conventional radiation therapy again because the organs surrounding the prostate cannot tolerate high radiation doses again. The standard treatment in case of recurrence is often hormone treatment, which can keep the disease at bay but not cure it, Simon Buus explains.
Experiences are collected internationally
Focal brachytherapy in patients with prostate cancer is a part of a new research project – PROSALBRA – where doctors will collect experiences from treatment of the first 50 patients at Aarhus University Hospital over the next five years.
- Moreover, we assume that the treatment will have good results also if used in the 600 newly diagnosed patients annually, who receive conventional radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
To strengthen the development of brachytherapy and prostate cancer, a network of Danish and international experts has been established supported by the Danish Comprehensive Cancer Center (DCCC), a centre created to promote cooperation and coordination of cancer research in Denmark and internationally.
- The first patient at Aarhus University Hospital is also one of the first patients in the world to be treated with focal brachytherapy for recurrence of prostate cancer. It is therefore important to collect experiences internationally, Simon Buus explains.
The PROSALBRA research project is financed by DCCC,the Research Fund at Department of Oncology at Aarhus University Hospital, and C.C. Klestrup og Hustru Henriette Klestrups Legat
Simon Buus, MD
Department of Oncology
Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark
Tel.: +45 40 46 52 91,