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Men diagnosed with prostate cancer in Southwestern Pennsylvania now have a new therapy available in their region. Penn Highlands Mon Valley has expanded its high dose rate brachytherapy program to include treatment for prostate cancer. For more than a decade, the hospital has been offering this innovative procedure for the treatment of breast, skin and gynecological cancers. 

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Members of the brachytherapy team at the Hahne Cancer Center at Penn Highlands Mon Valley are (l. to. r.) Mohsen A. Isaac, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology; Meredith Pomposelli, M.S., DABR, Medical Physicist; and Deborah L. Burkhardt R.T. (R)(T)(CT)(ARRT), Director of Radiation Oncology.

Performed on an outpatient basis under local anesthesia, high dose rate brachytherapy temporarily implants radioactive sources directly into or beside tumors. This procedure delivers a more conformal dose of radiation while preserving the surrounding tissue. When the patient leaves Penn Highlands Mon Valley, he is pain free and there is no risk of radioactive exposure to loved ones.

“This is a major advancement in the treatment of men with aggressive or locally advanced prostate cancer,” explained Mohsen A. Isaac, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Hahne Cancer Center at Penn Highlands Mon Valley. “High dose rate brachytherapy has been proven to improve outcomes compared to other therapies.”

Dr. Isaac and his team of physicists, nurses and therapists deliver high dose rate brachytherapy as a “boost” in combination with external beam radiation therapy to improve the quality of life for early and intermediate stage prostate patients. The external beam radiation is administered five days a week for five weeks with one treatment of high dose rate brachytherapy. 

“It is gratifying that we are able to make this therapy available to the people in this region,” said Dr. Isaac. “People appreciate that they can receive advanced treatment without having to leave the familiarity of this region.” 

Penn Highlands Mon Valley is able to offer this high dose rate brachytherapy through the generosity of a former patient who bequeathed funds to the hospital to enhance prostate cancer treatments at the hospital’s Cancer Center.

“This former patient graduated from our care many, many years ago and did not need to come back, but did so every year because of the outstanding care the Center provided to him,” explained Deborah L. Burkhardt R.T. (R)(T)(CT)(ARRT), Director of Radiation Oncology at Penn Highlands Mon Valley. 

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