Prostate Cancer: Now Offering HDR Brachytherapy | Loyola Medicine
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Loyola Now Offering HDR Brachytherapy, a Precise Radiation Treatment for Prostate Cancer

Abhishek Solanki, MD

MAYWOOD, IL – Loyola University Medical Center is the first academic medical center in the Chicago area to offer a precise radiation treatment for prostate cancer called high dose rate (HDR) prostate brachytherapy, in which the radiation dose is delivered in just minutes and removed immediately after the treatment.

HDR prostate brachytherapy differs from the most common form of prostate brachytherapy – low dose rate (LDR) – because the radioactive “seed” is removed immediately after treatment rather than multiple seeds being implanted in the prostate and remaining radioactive for months.

“What sets HDR brachytherapy apart is the ability to sculpt the radiation dose to reliably avoid healthy organs, such as the bladder, rectum and urethra,” said Loyola radiation oncologist Abhishek Solanki, MD. “Since the radiation source is removed immediately after completion of treatment, patients do not have to take radiation precautions after they leave the hospital.”

Loyola’s HDR prostate brachytherapy program was developed by Dr. Solanki and Matthew Harkenrider, MD, in collaboration with urologists Robert Flanigan, MD, Gopal Gupta, MD, and Ahmer Farooq, DO.

Another benefit of HDR brachytherapy is that it requires only two treatments. By contrast, two standard external beam radiation treatments, IMRT and proton therapy, take eight to nine weeks. 

The outpatient HDR brachytherapy treatment involves a one-hour procedure performed by the radiation oncologist in conjunction with the urologist. This is followed by a CT scan and sophisticated radiation treatment planning to maximize the chance the cancer is cured, while minimizing potential side effects. The individualized radiation dose is then delivered using a robotic system, and the patient goes home later that day.

In some patients with more aggressive prostate cancer, HDR brachytherapy may be used in combination with a shorter course of external beam radiation in order to deliver a higher radiation dose to the prostate. 

“This cutting-edge treatment offers a more convenient and customizable option for prostate cancer patients,” Dr. Harkenrider said. “HDR brachytherapy is a reliable and consistent method for delivering precise radiation doses to the prostate. It has been shown to be a safe and highly effective treatment.”

In addition to HDR brachytherapy for prostate cancer, Loyola offers radical prostatectomy, IMRT, proton therapy and LDR brachytherapy. All these treatments have been shown to be safe and effective, and each treatment has advantages and disadvantages.

“At Loyola, we are committed to offering our patients the full range of options for treatment of their prostate cancer,” said William Small Jr., MD, chair of the department of radiation oncology of Loyola University Medical Center. “While every patient will determine the best course of action with his physician, Loyola is proud to offer HDR brachytherapy as an option to our patients.”

About Loyola Medicine and Trinity Health

Loyola Medicine, a member of Trinity Health, is a quaternary care system based in the western suburbs of Chicago that includes Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC), Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, MacNeal Hospital and convenient locations offering primary and specialty care services from 1,877 physicians throughout Cook, Will and DuPage counties. LUMC is a 547-licensed-bed hospital in Maywood that includes the William G. and Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine, the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, a Level 1 trauma center, Illinois's largest burn center, a certified comprehensive stroke center and a children’s hospital. Having delivered compassionate care for over 50 years, Loyola also trains the next generation of caregivers through its teaching affiliation with Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Gottlieb is a 247-licensed-bed community hospital in Melrose Park with 150 physician offices, an adult day care program, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, the Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park. MacNeal Hospital is a 374-bed teaching hospital in Berwyn with advanced inpatient and outpatient medical, surgical and psychiatric services, advanced diagnostics and treatments. MacNeal has a 12-bed acute rehabilitation unit, a 25-bed inpatient skilled nursing facility, and a 68-bed behavioral health program and community clinics. MacNeal has provided quality, patient-centered care to the near west suburbs since 1919.

Trinity Health is one of the largest multi-institutional Catholic healthcare systems in the nation, serving diverse communities that include more than 30 million people across 22 states. Trinity Health includes 92 hospitals, as well as 109 continuing care locations that include PACE programs, senior living facilities and home care and hospice services. Its continuing care programs provide nearly 2.5 million visits annually. Based in Livonia, Mich., and with annual operating revenues of $18.3 billion and assets of $26.2 billion, the organization returns $1.1 billion to its communities annually in the form of charity care and other community benefit programs. Trinity employs about 129,000 colleagues, including 7,800 employed physicians and clinicians. Committed to those who are poor and underserved in its communities, Trinity is known for its focus on the country's aging population. As a single, unified ministry, the organization is the innovator of Senior Emergency Departments, the largest not-for-profit provider of home health care services—ranked by number of visits—in the nation, as well as the nation’s leading provider of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) based on the number of available programs.