Brachytherapy (brak-e-THER-uh-pee) is a form of concentrated radiation treatment for various forms of cancer. Opposite of chemotherapy, which is usually administered externally, brachytherapy is also referred to as internal radiation. This treatment modality allows Doctors to administer higher doses of radiation, in a more specific location in the body. Brachytherapy is usually associated with shorter duration of treatments, faster recoveries, and better patient outcomes. It is a very popular treatment for Cervical cancer in women.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women worldwide. It forms at the cellular level of the cervix and is commonly associated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Standards of care have evolved from external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) alone to combined EBRT with brachytherapy and simultaneous chemotherapy. Brachytherapy gives the advantage of a very high dosed concentrate in a small area with relatively no damage done to surrounding tissue and anatomy.
Initial symptoms of cervical cancer usually go unnoticed. Routine screenings will determine if you are at risk of developing the cancer. More advanced symptoms include bleeding after intercourse or menopause. Painful and foul discharges with pelvic pain during intercourse. If you experience any of these, you will want to see a gynecologist immediately. In addition to tissue samples, CT scans, X Ray and MRI can all be utilized to determine cancerous growth and best treatment method.
Treatment with ERBT to the pelvis is delivered daily for the first 5 weeks alongside of chemotherapy. After your surgeon has confirmed the tumor has been shrunk to a manageable size, they will begin brachytherapy. Waiting until the tumor has shrunk potentially leads to smaller treatment volumes reducing trauma and repeated invasive treatments.
To maintain dilation of the cervical canal between these brachytherapy treatments ACE Medical Company provides a no-stitch Smit Sleeve for dilation. The unique flanges prevent the device from extruding and allow the patient to have these treatments done in an outpatient setting. These come in two distinct sizes with a range of lengths of dilators, all suitable to every unique anatomy. Last, since there is no suture, removal is easy causing less pain for patients.
The kits are available in a medium with an inner diameter (ID) of 3.7mm. This comes in 6 lengths, 30, 40, 50, 60 & 70mm lengths and works best with both Stainless Steel and Titanium Intrauterine Tubes from Bebig, Varian, and Elekta Tubes with an ID between 3.0mm and 3.5mm.
The large kit has an ID of 4.5mm coming in lengths of 40 (open), 50 (open) and 80mm it is ideal for Elekta plastic tubes of 4.0mm. The open architecture allows dilation with easy access to challenging anatomy. Hospitals must simply check the model specifications of their Tubes to determine the right size for each patient.
After successful treatment your doctor will remove the Smit Sleeve, this will be mostly painless as the flanges holding it in place simply fold down upon removal. Once removed your brachytherapy treatments will be completed. Your oncologist will schedule follow up appointments to assure you are cancer free.