Technology | April 19, 2011

Brachytherapy Applicator Lets Clinicians Better Sculpt Dose

April 19, 2011 – A new brachytherapy applicator for treating endometrial cancer patients after a hysterectomy has been introduced. The Capri applicator, from Varian Medical Systems, is aimed at increasing patient comfort and allowing clinicians to better sculpt the radiotherapy dose. It was exhibited recently at the annual American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) meeting in San Diego.

The applicator can also be used for treatment of vaginal and rectal cancers.

The device is a lightweight balloon applicator that is inflated upon insertion to adapt to each patient's anatomy and hold it in place during treatment. Prior to the applicator's development, the principle brachytherapy option for endometrial cancer patients involved inserting rigid cylinders, which may require the fixation of the applicator to the treatment table. It is also compatible with CT imaging, which enables doctors to use it with 3-D imaging to plan their treatments and determine exactly where they want to deposit the dose.

"We believe this applicator is a breakthrough for gynaecological treatments and will make a huge difference in treating post-hysterectomy endometrial cancer patients," said Ted Jackson, Ph.D., Varian BrachyTherapy's director of product development and engineering. "Our design is aimed at enhancing patient comfort and improving ease of use and we believe it has the potential to reduce the radiation dose to surrounding healthy tissues."

The Capri applicator has FDA clearance for gynaecological and rectal treatments in the United States and is awaiting CE approval for sale in Europe.

Rakesh Patel, the medical director of the Targeted Radiation Institute at Western Radiation Oncology (WRO) in Mountain View, Calif., said the Capri applicator supports 3-D treatment planning capabilities for high-dose rate (HDR) vaginal brachytherapy.

"We expect that the result will be to significantly improve dose distribution by allowing us to reduce the exposure of the rectum and bladder," he said. "This feature combined with its design aimed at improving ease of use and patient comfort enhances the current methods for this type of treatment. From our clinical observations, the patients tolerate the treatment very well."

Brachytherapy involves treating cancer by temporarily placing radioactive sources within or adjacent to tumors. About half of all U.S. endometrial cancer patients receive HDR brachytherapy as the standard of care post-hysterectomy. Endometrial cancer is the most common gynaecological cancer and the majority of women require a hysterectomy as part of their treatment.

For more information: www.varian.com

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