The treatment of head and neck tumours can be held immensely with high-dosage perioperative brachytherapy, suggest researchers at the University of Navarra Hospital. They have also claimed its utility in reducing the period of radiation.
Brachytherapy is a radiotherapy treatment involving the placing of radioactive sources within the tumour or nearby.
The scientists say that their work describes the application of this new radiotherapy technique to 40 patients between 2000 and 2006.
A research article on the study suggests that it was the greatest number of patients treated with high-dosage brachytherapy for head and neck tumours in world medical literature.
The results suggest that after a seven-year follow-up, the illness was controlled in 86 per cent of the cases, and that the percentage of survival was 52 per cent.
The researchers revealed that their study concentrated on the treatment of tumours in the oral cavity, those affecting the tongue and the floor of the mouth, and those in the oropharyngeal region, such as tumours of the tonsils.
Doctor Rafael Martínez-Monge, Director of the Radiotherapy Department, revealed that the team analysed the application of brachytherapy as complementary post-surgery treatment.
Some cases of head and neck tumours require the application of radiotherapy after the surgical operation.
The researchers say that using this technique, they could intensify the radiation dosage with the goal of reducing relapse rates.
According to them, brachytherapy provides better end-result possibilities than conventional radiotherapy, as it enables the administration of doses that would not be easily achieved using other techniques due to toxic effects.
Given that the use in brachytherapy of high dosages involves a series of benefits for the patient as regards the overall treatment, Doctor Martínez-Monge points out that the great advantage is the reduction of total time.
While conventional radiotherapy treatment lasted seven weeks, administering part of the radiation through brachytherapy can take two weeks less.
The researchers say that this technique also manages to reduce the time of radiation compared to treatment with low dosage brachytherapy, thanks to the existence of new sources of radiation that help release the treatment in a matter of minutes.
The University of Navarra Hospital says that there are a number of studies under way on its use in gynaecological tumours and sarcomas, amongst others.
The current study has been published in Brachytherapy, official journal of the American Society of Brachytherapy.