The La Fe Hospital in Valencia, Spain is nearing the conclusion of the enrolment phase of a clinical study of a new electronic brachytherapy system for treating skin cancer. First clinical data on efficacy are expected in about two months, but physicians in the center’s radiotherapy department are already reporting that patients have tolerated the treatments well and that the system is very user-friendly. The enrolment of the first group of 20 patients ever to receive treatment with the Esteya brachytherapy system from the Swedish company Elekta was completed in October. The center is using a standard treatment protocol of 36.6 Gy over six fractions, 6.1 Gy per fraction delivered twice weekly.
“The patients have accepted the treatment very well and side effects reported for the first treated patients have been very mild, typically just a little skin reddening or itching,” says José Perez-Calatayud, Head of Medical Physics at Hospital La Fe. “The treatment delivery times have averaged less than three minutes per lesion, for a total treatment session of seven to eight minutes. This short therapy delivery is important, particularly for patients with multiple lesions. One of the patients we treated had nine lesions.” “With five surface applicators ranging in size from 1 cm to 3 cm, we have a great opportunity to adapt to the lesion’s size, thus helping us avoid exposing normal tissue,” Perez-Calatayud adds. “And the leakage dose – the dose outside the volume to be treated – is extremely low due to the combination of low energy and tungsten shielding of the applicators.” Planning, delivery and implementation of electronic brachytherapy at Hospital La Fe has been exceptionally straightforward. “The graphical user interface is uncomplicated and patient set-up is quite simple, contributing to a smooth, efficient workflow ” said Perez-Calatayud.