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Brachytherapy Cancer Treatment

Radiation Therapy in Jackson, WY

St. John’s offers high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy to the other cancer treatment options in an effort to provide patients with high quality, evidence-driven care. With Brachytherapy, St. John’s Health is able to treat cancers of the prostate, breast, cervix, and uterus, as well as non-melanoma skin cancers.

Brachytherapy is a specialized form of radiation therapy that involves placing a sealed radioactive source close to, or inside, the tumor. The advantage of brachytherapy is that it uses a higher dose of radiation in a more targeted area for a shorter period of time than is possible with traditional radiation therapy. This minimizes the effects of radiation on the surrounding tissue and organs.

St. John’s has the first HDR enclosure in Wyoming. It has audio entertainment and a virtual window featuring a view of the Tetons and the Moulton barn. These features are unique compared to typical brachytherapy vaults.

Clinical Benefits of HDR Brachytherapy

Prostate Cancer: HDR brachytherapy is the most conformal way to deliver radiation to the prostate. Conformal radiation treatment delivers a higher dose of radiation to the cancer while the dose to the surrounding tissue is minimal. Some advantages of HDR prostate brachytherapy include the delivery of a very high radiation dose in a very short period of time, which is especially
important for faster growing tumors. Urinary side effects are relatively short, and no radiation precautions need to be followed because it is a temporary implant. Brachytherapy is cost
efficient and, as an outpatient procedure, convenient for the patient. Patients are able to resume normal activity within a day.

Breast Cancer: Conventional treatment of early stage breast cancer involves either a total mastectomy (removal of the breasts and lymph nodes) or a lumpectomy (breast conservation therapy) followed by external beam radiation of the whole breast. Brachytherapy can be a treatment option for women with early stage (I or II) breast cancer, thus reducing radiation treatment time and local tissue damage. Brachytherapy is delivered as a part of breast conservation therapy, which consists of a lumpectomy surgery followed by radiation delivered via a catheter. Two significant advantages of HDR brachytherapy include:

  • reducing treatment time from several weeks to just 5 days
  • sparing healthy tissue from radiation

Cervical and Endometrial Cancer: Brachytherapy is a key component of treatment for both cervical and endometrial cancers. Patients with inoperable Stage IA1 and IA2 may be treated solely with tandem-based brachytherapy. Patients are treated with brachytherapy regardless of lymph node status, grade, age, tumor size, or histology. Studies have unequivocally demonstrated that brachytherapy achieved the best dose conformity and preservation of surrounding tissue when compared to external beam radiation.

Skin Cancer: Brachytherapy provides an alternative to surgery with highly rated cosmetic results. It has demonstrated excellent local control rates for early stage nonmelanoma skin cancers. This treatment may be preferable in the elderly, for anyone who has a medical condition that impacts the healing process, or for individuals on blood thinners. It is non-invasive, so there is no need for skin grafting, and it is a painless procedure, so no anesthetics are needed. It is especially useful for skin lesions on the face, neck, nose, ear, lip, and eyelid, which are difficult to remove surgically. This may bypass the need for future reconstructive procedures. The treatment time is significantly less than external beam radiotherapy, and recovery times are faster than invasive techniques.

Personalized Cancer Treatment

Dr. Ryan Bair, from Gamma West Cancer Services, is the medical director of St. John’s new brachytherapy program. Dr. Bair is a board-certified radiation oncologist specializing in HDR brachytherapy. Dr. Bair is working closely with a multidisciplinary team, which includes: surgeon, urologist, medical oncologist, radiologist, pathologist, gynecologist, cancer care navigator, and specially trained nursing staff.

Call or email St. John's Cancer Care with questions about brachytherapy
Phone: 307.739.6195
Email: oncnavigator@tetonhospital.org
A doctor referral or doctor order is required at the time of registration.
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