Electronic Brachytherapy : The Next Generation Radiotherapy
Mar 13, 2005 - 8:40:38 AM

The delivery of localized radiation treatment directly to cancer sites using high dose rate x- rays on demand has significant potential to improve cancer treatment, according to a recent symposium on Electronic Brachytherapy at the 15th Annual Meeting of the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO).

Attended by approximately 75 leading radiation oncologists participating in the ACRO meeting, the symposium, titled "Electronic Brachytherapy: Early Experience and Future Potential" was led by Vivek Mehta, MD, Director for the Center of Advanced Targeted Radiation Therapy at Swedish Cancer Center in Seattle.

"Electronic Brachytherapy was designed to leverage all of the clinical benefits of traditional brachytherapy and external beam radiation without the radioactivity, without the concerns associated with handling isotopes and without the need for a shielded bunker," said Dr. Mehta.

The symposium was sponsored by Xoft, Inc., developer of the Axxent(TM) Electronic Brachytherapy System, a proprietary platform designed to deliver non-radioactive, isotope-free radiation treatment in virtually any clinical setting under radiation oncology supervision. The symposium reviewed the results of existing clinical trials in accelerated partial breast irradiation, the potential first use for electronic brachytherapy. In addition, Dr. Mehta presented results of work done in a pre-clinical setting that have demonstrated system performance, as well as previewed future indications and development plans.

"As electronic brachytherapy moves closer to clinical practice, all indications are that this technology represents a leap forward in cancer treatment," added Dr. Mehta. "And, as important as the clinical benefits are, the true breakthrough may relate to easy and convenient access to partial breast radiotherapy for the tens of thousands of women who today opt for an unnecessary mastectomy or a lumpectomy without radiation therapy."

The Electronic Brachytherapy System, which is not currently FDA cleared, uses disposable micro-miniature x-ray radiation sources to deliver treatment. Designed to deliver electronically generated ionizing radiation directly to tumor beds, this localized approach minimizes exposure of the patient's healthy tissue to toxic radiation.

A unique advantage is that it also minimizes radiation exposure to treatment staff. With Xoft's electronic brachytherapy technology, users can control energy level and total dose, allowing more flexibility than isotope-based systems -- but in a non-shielded or lightly shielded clinical environment.

In its first indication for use, the Electronic Brachytherapy System provides both the patient and the radiation oncologist the opportunity to reduce the time required for radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer from seven weeks (for external beam radiation therapy) down to five days.

As a result, tens of thousands patients will have greater access to therapy that is delivered more easily and conveniently. This may accelerate the choice of breast-sparing lumpectomy surgery instead of a full mastectomy (which does not require a long course of radiation).

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