Tool makes radiation cancer treatment safer

June 18, 2010 3:18:10 PM PDT
There is an alternative for patients who don't want surgery to remove their prostate gland: Radiation treatment.It can be done with radioactive seeds inserted into the prostate or by an external radiation beam. Now, with new medical tool invented to give precise radiation doses, the treatment is proven to be safer.

Radiation treatment is a beam of cancer killing rays targeted on the prostate gland right below a man's bladder. This tiny electronic device, much smaller than a quarter, can help doctors deliver just the right amount of radiation to prostate cancer patient. Just enough is given so that the cancer would be killed, but not any nearby normal tissue.

70-year-old Carmen Trongone had radiation treatment for his prostate cancer at the John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack Medical Center.

"After consultation with my urologist, we went over the various treatments and I decided that the radiation would be the best way to go," said Tragone.

Many patients are skeptical of radiation treatment, with fear that it could be dangerous. Dr. Glen Gejerman, M.D, Hackensack University Medical Center, believes that in the right hands, the procedure can be done successfully.

"There have been well publicized situations where patients received more radiation than was intended, but there is another tool that can be used to make sure that the right dose is being delivered to the right location," said Dr. Gejerman.

The tool that Gejerman is referring to is called the Dose Verification System (DVS), which has been FDA approved for the past two years.

After each radiation session, a device checks the implanted dosimeters to verify the dosage and the delivery only to the cancer. The tiny devices stay in the body after treatment ends with no ill effect so far. Patients end up feeling more confident.

"One of the key questions I'm asked is about radiation safety," said Dr. Gejerman. "Often after explaining the benefits of the DVS, patients leave a lot more secure with the radiation treatment."

Although the tiny dose meters stays in the prostate, there is no evidence so far that they will migrate to other areas of the body. That is a danger when radioactive seeds are used to treat this cancer. The DVS is also used in breast cancer radiation and is being extended to other cancers as well.

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