Fewer Side Effects for Prostate Cancer Patients
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men and new treatments are allowing patients to live longer with fewer side effects. One such treatment option is brachytherapy, sometimes called internal radiation, because it involves placing a very small and intense radioactive source near or in the tumour.
A clinical trial underway at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre is looking into how magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology, or medical imaging, can make brachytherapy even more effective.
“When you treat the entire prostate, there is an improvement in outcomes, but that comes hand-in-hand with increased toxicity,” says Dr. Alejandro Berlin, Radiation Oncologist. “The MRI allows us to focus more in the area that harbours the higher burden of disease and gives more dose to that area, while at the same time protecting the other organs and other areas.”
Dr. Berlin is co-leading this study along with Dr. Peter Chung, Radiation Oncologist. They both agree that targeting the tumour with precision will lead to fewer side effects.
“We're working towards tailoring treatment to a patient's specific situation. This is a step towards that,” says Dr. Chung.
Patients are reporting minimal disruption in quality of life and fewer side effects. Drs. Berlin and Chung say if the results continue to be positive, MRI-guided brachytherapy may one day be the standard of care for prostate cancer in Canada and around the world.