Brachytherapy Radiation Implants for Cancer Patients

Treatment results have demonstrated that the cancer cure rates of brachytherapy are either comparable to surgery and EBRT or are improved when used in combination with these techniques
Brachytherapy Radiation  Implants for Cancer Patients Brachytherapy Radiation  Implants for Cancer Patients

Staff at Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization research center have successfully produced radiation sources for brachytherapy to treat cancer and brain tumors.

Brachytherapy is a form of radiotherapy where a sealed radiation source is placed inside or next to the area requiring treatment.

“Based on the latest report on cancer by the World Health Organization on Iran, about 85,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and 50,000 lost their lives to the disease,” said Dr Shahab Sheybani, researcher and manager of the project, dubbed ‘Iodine-125 brachytherapy’.

Iodine-125 is one of the most common radiation sources in the world.

“Brachytherapy is commonly used as an effective treatment for cervical, prostate, breast, and skin cancer and can also be used to treat tumors in many other parts of the body,” Sheybani was quoted by Mehr News Agency as saying.

“The method can be used by itself or in combination with other therapies such as surgery, external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and chemotherapy.”

Brachytherapy allows doctors to deliver higher doses of radiation to more-specific areas of the body, compared with the conventional form of radiation therapy (EBRT) that projects radiation from a machine outside the body.

Over 300 radiation sources were produced and implanted in the clinical treatment phase of 43 patients with brain tumors, and 17 patients with eye melanoma. The patients were admitted to Shohadaye Tajrish Hospital and Educational Center (affiliated to Tehran’s Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences), and Farabi Specialized Eye Hospital (affiliated to Tehran University of Medical Sciences).

“The therapy was successful in eliminating the growth of tumor cells, or accelerating the process of responding to treatment,” Sheybani said.

According to him, treatment results have demonstrated that the cancer cure rates of brachytherapy are either comparable to surgery and EBRT or are improved when used in combination with these techniques.

  Advantageous Over Old Methods

“A course of brachytherapy can be completed in less time than other radiotherapy techniques,” the lead researcher noted. “This can help reduce the chances for surviving cancer cells to divide and grow in the intervals between each radiotherapy dose.”

Elaborating on other advantages of the method, he said that patients typically have to make fewer visits for radiotherapy compared with EBRT, and the treatment is often performed on an outpatient basis. This makes treatment accessible and convenient for many patients.

“This means that most patients are able to tolerate the brachytherapy procedure very well.”

Global figures estimate that people diagnosed with cancer, or those succumbing to the disease, will double by 2030. Sheybani noted that the project’s findings and the developed radiation sources can be mass produced for brachytherapy to be incorporated into the Health Ministry’s Comprehensive National Cancer Control Program (CNCCP).

In 2006, the CNCCP was designed and approved by the Nutrition and Health Department of the Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran, and accredited by the Health Ministry in January 2007.

Under the plan, a multi-dimensional approach to cancer, including prevention, early diagnosis, effective treatment, and palliative care, and providing appropriate care for cancer patients, were envisaged.

Six strategies were selected for implementing the program: establishing the infrastructure, political and financial support for planning and execution, using data and research in the field of cancer to regularly update the program, and establishing joint cooperation with other ministries and public institutions for planning and executing the program.


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