For a long time, radical surgery of the prostate was believed to be the only successful treatment method for prostate cancer. However, meanwhile modern treatment techniques for the management of prostate cancer have evolved in radiation therapy. The advantages are manifold: precise targeting of the radiation at the same rate of success; the radiation of the tumors causes lower levels of discomfort and distress; and IGRT shows a substantially lower incidence of both impotence and incontinence than surgery or external beam irradiation
As pioneers in the area of brachytherapy (internal radiation therapy), the West-German Prostate Center (WPZ) expanded its treatment spectrum with the most modern radiation therapy system in Europe. On September 1, 2009, the radiation therapists at the WPZ, Dr. Gregor Spira and Dr. Carsten Weise opened a new large facility for the IGRT treatment at the Oncology Center in Cologne, left of the Rhine River. In an area of 1000 square meters, patients receive accurate, precise, and secure radiation treatment with state of the art high technique.Precise targeting is a must
„The more precise the radiation hits the tumor in the prostate, the higher the success of the treatment“, explains Dr. Spira. Applying an optimal radiation dose in all sections of the prostate can increase the chances of recovery. Simultaneously, excessive radiation exposure to the neighboring organs can be avoided, which results in lower unwanted side effects.
A prerequisite for a high accuracy of radiation therapy is the precise positioning of the patients in relation to the radiation source. “Although if the patient is positioned precisely each day, the position of the tumor can shift from the expected position up to several centimeters because of inner movements”, explains the radiation therapist. Dr. Spira continues that especially the prostate could shift because of its location next to the colon and the bladder, depending on their fullness. A treatment can therefore only be optimally precise, if the exact position of the tumor to be treated is controlled continually during the treatment.
Gold markers localize the tumor
In the IGRT (image-guided-radiotherapy), tiny gold markers are implanted into the patient’s prostate previous to the actual treatment. With the computer tomography fastened to the linear accelerator, it is then with the help of the gold markers possible to make the prostate visible during the radiation, and to observe the movements of the organ. „Any deviation of the prostate’s position will be determined and immediately corrected. This ensures a millimeter-precise radiation of prostate and the tumor“, elucidates Dr. Weise.
The ultra modern linear accelerator of the new Radiation Therapy Center can even do more: in the future, the system will also provide the radiation with the innovative “Rapid Arc” techniques, a further development of the intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). . The radiation of the prostate is delivered in a 360-degree rotation of the linear accelerator gantry, which rotates once in only two minutes around the patient. The form of the radiation field and the radiation dose adjust continually during the treatment to form and the position of tumor. “This allows for an even more effective radiation while keeping the dose to surrounding tissues as low as possible”, concludes Dr. Weise.