Brachytherapy (from Greek brachy meaning “short”) is a treatment method (type of therapy) that involves radiation of tumours using the radiation energy of an isotope placed inside or next to the tumour. High dose irradiation in several fractions increases the chance to destroy cancer cells. Interventional procedures, such as bronchoscopy, gastroscopy, etc., are sometimes needed to place an isotope in the tumour. At the GPCC, the procedures are mostly performed on the day of placement of brachytherapy applicators.
In terms of the number of patients, the GPCC’s Brachytherapy Unit has for several years been ranked as one of the largest units of that kind in Europe. More than 80% of patients are treated with radical intent hoping for a total recovery. The Unit offers medical aid by all treatment methods available in the best world centres. Stand-alone brachytherapy is used in many cases of cancer, such as prostate, breast, skin, lung, oesophagus, and head & neck. Sometimes, to increase patient’s chance for recovery, brachytherapy is combined with external beam radiation. Brachytherapy combined with surgery or radioteletherapy is used in the treatment of almost any type of cancer.
Currently, GPCC’s Brachytherapy Unit carries out brachytherapy for the following cancer types: prostate, breast, penis, advanced abdominal, including pancreas, relapsed colorectal, retroperitoneal sarcomas, lip and other head and neck cancers, skin, trachea and lung, oesophagus, bile ducts. Furthermore, interstitial and surface hyperthermia is used in combination with brachytherapy, radioteletherapy and chemotherapy, as well as diagnostic and therapeutic brachytherapy.
The GPCC is also a leading scientific centre implementing innovative treatment methods. In December 2008, it began the treatment of prostate cancer by means of permanent implants and remains, up to date, the only Polish centre to use that method. In November 2009, a Contura balloon applicator was used for the first time in a stand-alone breast cancer brachytherapy to replace many weeks of whole breast irradiation.
The GPCC’s Brachytherapy Unit offers medical aid with all treatment methods available in the best world centres. It is one of three centres in Poland to utilise an advanced BSD Medical hiperthermia for cancer treatment. In this particular regard, the Unit counts among Europe’s best oncology centres.