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The Technical Stuff: Radiation Oncology and Brachytherapy

April 20, 2011

Dr. Ross Halperin talks Radiation Oncology and Brachytherapy.

After my discovery of a passion for oncology, I discovered a second passion for a specific type of radiation treatment called brachytherapy (pronounced brak-e-therapy). The most common type of brachytherapy, low-dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy, involves the implantation of microscopic radiation sources or “seeds” directly into or around a tumour. This means that a patient does not have to come in to the cancer centre continually for radiation treatments, which is the case with the type of cancer radiation treatment most people are familiar with, external beam radiation. I was drawn to brachytherapy because it is a much more convenient and personalized form of treatment; advantages I knew my patients would appreciate. I am convinced brachytherapy works well, and it is a leading radiation treatment for prostate cancer, the area I specialize in.

My first couple of years at the Centre for the Southern Interior involved a lot of travel to the Agency’s Vancouver Centre to administer brachytherapy to my patients there because we didn’t yet have the necessary equipment in Kelowna. I’m happy to say that with the help of the BC Cancer Foundation, we opened a brachytherapy suite at the Centre for the Southern Interior in 2009. The convenience of brachytherapy is such an important benefit to many of our prostate patients because many do not actually live in Kelowna. Having the ability to go home after treatment and recover there, surrounded by family, is an advantage I’m proud to be a part of.