This department offers brachytherapy as an alternative to external beam radiotherapy in selected patients with head and neck and orbital cancers. This specialized technique allows the radiation oncologist to focus the radiation treatment on a small area – thereby decreasing radiation exposure of surrounding normal tissues as much as possible. In the case of head and neck cancers radioactive isotopes (e.g.: Iodine-125) are inserted into thin hollow catheters and inserted directly into the tumour or the tumour bed (in the case of a tumour that has been surgically removed) under general anaesthetic. Retinoblastomas and malignant melanomas of the eye are treated using gold plaques with the radioactive isotope attached to the inner surface. The plaque is inserted around the eye by an ophthalmic surgeon. In both scenarios the implant is removed 4 to 5 days after insertion – the overall treatment time is therefore significantly shorter than with external beam radiotherapy.
Besides the other specialized work done in the Division, we are also able to offer Public Service patients Radiosurgery treatment, where a single large dose of irradiation is administered to a carefully defined, and often benign, lesion in the brain, in order to alleviate symptoms. Localization and treatment of the lesion, done in conjunction with Neurosurgery, Radiology and Medical Physics, is performed in a single day on our newest and most technologically-advanced Linear Accelerator treatment unit.