The Cancer Institute of Guyana (CIG) yesterday introduced modern radiation technology for use in the treatment of cervical cancer.
The High Dose Rate (HDR) radiation treatment is said to be the most effective and complete treatment for cervical cancer. Speaking at the CIG, Chief Executive Officer Dr George Nella said that the HDR has replaced the use of Low Dose Radiation (LDR) treatment, which had been in use since 2009.
Dr Sayan Chakraborty, Oncologist and Medical Director of the institute, said HDR can deliver radiation to tumours in 15 to 20 minutes.
With the LDR, patients had to be immobilised for 72 hours on a hospital bed with an inserted catheter, which was painful. Chakraborty said the use of the HDR has significantly reduced treatment time and he has also found it to be very effective in controlling tumours and preventing a recurrence.
Chakraborty explained that the machine temporarily implants a catheter, a small plastic tube, in the tumour area, places highly radioactive material inside the body for a short time and then retracts it using a remote control.
He explained that it then removes the catheter after a completed course of treatment. He also mentioned that the patient will be lying on a stretcher comfortably throughout the treatment.
The oncologist also said that HDR is not limited to treating gynaecology-related cancers, but it can also be used in treating prostate, breast, head and neck cancers. For now, the machine will only be used for gynaecology-related cancers.
However, its use will be expanded shortly.
According to Nella and Chakraborty, the upgrade in treatment was what the institution needed for a complete regimen in the treatment of cervical cancer. “With the external radiation and chemo treatment along with the HDR, we are confident that we can effectively treat cervical cancer in patients today up to international standards,” Chakraborty said.
Nella said that the HDR has already been in use and three patients have already been under its treatment.
Asked what the machine cost, Nella said, “millions of dollars.” He also mentioned that the treatment is very affordable, as compared to treatment outside of the country. However, it also depends on how many times a patient would need treatment.