Docrates Cancer Center has extensive imaging equipment and excellent clinical imaging experts. Therefore, we can very accurately determine the location of the tumor to be treated. The information provided by advanced imaging studies, together with cutting-edge radiotherapy equipment, allows us to minimize the adverse effects of treatment and yet deliver a higher dose of radiation to the tumor. This has been shown to improve survival rates.
At Docrates, radiotherapy is always planned by a team of experts. The team may include a urologist, a specialist in oncology and radiotherapy, a nuclear medicine specialist, a radiologist, a radiographer and a medical physicist.
The many possibilities of prostate cancer radiotherapy
In external radiotherapy, radiation is usually produced with particle accelerators. Docrates has two modern VMAT (Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy) RapidArc linear accelerators and we were the first to use this equipment in Finland. We update the equipment regularly to utilise the most recent applications.
Depending on the patient’s wishes, we will explain the functioning and technology of the radiotherapy unit to you before your first treatment session. RapidArc radiotherapy takes into account the actual form of the tumor. It is the most advanced form of external radiotherapy, combining the best features of the previously developed stereotactic radiotherapy and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT).
A cycle of curative radiotherapy typically takes eight weeks and the treatment is administered five days a week. Each session takes about 15 minutes.
It is also possible to administer radiotherapy internally. This is called brachytherapy. Traditionally, brachytherapy has involved inserting low dose rate (LDR) iodine seeds into the prostate, which are then left permanently inside the prostate. At Docrates we no longer use traditional LDR brachytherapy. It is only suitable for prostate cancer patients with a very good prognosis and no risk factors, whereas high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy is an excellent option for the treatment of any form of prostate cancer.
HDR brachytherapy is an efficient and conservative form of therapy at the same time. It uses high radiation doses, which is why only a few treatment sessions are required – sometimes just one.
In HDR brachytherapy, hollow needles are introduced into the patient’s prostate under ultrasound guidance, and an iridium 192 radiation source is inserted into the needles. The patient is under general anaesthesia during the procedure and will spend the night at the hospital for monitoring. HDR brachytherapy is particularly useful for enhancing the efficiency of external radiotherapy in medium- and high-risk prostate cancer.
In combination treatment, the RapidArc particle accelerator is used for external radiotherapy to remove cancer cells from pelvic lymph nodes and the area surrounding the prostate. HDR brachytherapy accurately delivers a maximum amount of radiotherapy to the prostate, without damaging external healthy tissue. Studies show that combination therapy, which consists of external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy and androgen deprivation therapy, reduces prostate cancer-specific mortality in aggressive cancer cases.
Docrates Cancer Center is a pioneer in HDR brachytherapy: we were the first in Finland to start using this technology to treat prostate cancer. We have performed almost 600 HDR brachytherapy treatments, more than any other hospital in Finland. HDR brachytherapy is also suitable for the treatment of locally recurrent prostate cancer, even if the prostate has been treated with radiation before.