High-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a form of prostate cancer treatment, which by comparison with conventional external radiotherapy, allows a higher dose of radiation to the prostate gland, but a lower dose of radiation to the healthy tissues surrounding the gland.
HDR brachytherapy is often combined with external radiotherapy so that the duration of the external radiotherapy is only three to five weeks. This combination radiotherapy is an established treatment for certain types of prostate cancers.
If the prostate cancer recurs within the prostate gland after previous external radiotherapy or low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, HDR brachytherapy is indicated in certain cases. Three HDR brachytherapy sessions will then be given at intervals of three weeks.
HDR Brachytherapy in Practice
The medical team includes an urologist, a physicist, two radiographers, an anesthesiologist, as well as an anesthetist. The patient is under general anesthesia during HDR brachytherapy. The procedure lasts about two hours.
The target area is determined based on an ultrasound scan, after which an iridium radiation source inside hollow needles, planted in the prostate gland, is carried to the prostate, giving the desired amount of radiation to the target area. The patient can be discharged on the following morning after the procedure. If HDR brachytherapy is combined with external radiotherapy, the latter of these will begin two weeks after the HDR procedure.
The Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) has provided prostate brachytherapy since 2000. Having given over 1,000 treatments, we have the most extensive experience in prostate cancer brachytherapy in Finland. All our urologists have a long history of experience in this form of treatment.