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University Hospital Galway introduces a new treatment option for prostate cancer

Last month, University Hospital Galway became the first public hospital in the Country to treat patients with prostate cancer using high dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy. This was the culmination of an extensive training and education programme for the multi-disciplinary team from the Radiation Department which included a Radiation Oncologist, Physicists, Nursing staff, Radiation Therapists and Anaesthetics.

Dr Cormac Small, Radiation Oncologist at the hospital said, “Until now HDR brachytherapy treatment was only available to patients in the Mater Private. We felt that this treatment modality should be made available to all patients and this was fully supported by hospital management and the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

“A training and education programme on this new treatment was then undertaken by the designated staff. Part of this process involved site visits to the Mater Private as well as the Northern Ireland Cancer Centre in Belfast and Poitiers University Hospital in France. These centres very kindly allowed us to observe and learn from them. We envisage that UHG will lead a programme to roll out the prostate HDR service to the radiotherapy centres in Cork and Dublin.”

High dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy or temporary brachytherapy is a type of internal radiotherapy which involves inserting thin tubes into the area being treated. A source of radiation is then passed down the tubes into the prostate for a few minutes to destroy cancer cells. This allows an increase in the dose of radiation to the prostate whilst reducing the exposure to surrounding tissues. This new technique enables the doctors to treat a wider range of patients with brachytherapy.

Ireland has the highest incidence of prostate cancer in Europe with over 3,400 men diagnosed annually. This number is expected to increase over the coming decades as the population ages.

Chris Kane, General Manager, Galway University Hospitals commented, “Considerable advances have been made in both the surgical and radiotherapy options available in UHG in recent years. I am delighted that we now offer our patients a full range of radiotherapy options for treating prostate cancer: external beam radiotherapy, seed implant brachytherapy and now HDR brachytherapy.”

Photo Caption:
The first HDR Brachytherapy procedure to treat prostate cancer in a public hospital in Ireland was carried out in University Hospital Galway in November. The team involved in the procedure included, standing from left: Stephen Coyne, Radiotherapy Service Manager; Louise Fahy, Senior Physicist; Leanne Berrigan, Physicist; Sarah Larkin, Physicist; Anysja Zuchora, Senior Physicist; Rhona Goodwin, Clinical Specialist Radiation Therapist; Joe McManus, Deputy Radiotherapy Service Manager; Dr Cormac Small, Radiation Oncologist; Dr Shane Power, Anaesthetist; Claire Cunningham, Anaesthetic Nurse. Front row from left: Margaret Walsh, Staff Nurse; Niamh Morrissy, Staff Nurse; and Zoe Gaynor, Staff Nurse

The article above is specific to the following Saolta hospitals:: 
University Hospital Galway (UHG)