A group of 12 prostate cancer patients will benefit from an advanced cancer treatment – the low-dose-rate (LDR) brachytherapy surgery – at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital.
The treatment offering is as a result of a public-private partnership between the hospital and multinational medical technology company BD Africa. According to the Gauteng health department, patients will be given the operational procedure that costs between R35 000 and R50 000 in private care.
Prostate LDR brachytherapy is a treatment that can be used alone to cure early-stage prostate cancer or combined with external beam radiotherapy for slightly more advanced cancer.
The head of the hospital’s radiation oncology department, Dr Duvern Ramiah, said the surgery offers men with early-stage prostate cancer a better treatment option – either by having a radical prostatectomy or external beam radiotherapy.
“Patients are usually discharged the same day or a day after the procedure. The procedure involves patients having tiny radioactive ‘seeds’ inserted into the prostate under ultrasound guidance in theatre,” Ramiah explained.
He said the seed remains permanently in the prostate, emitting radiation to the prostate, with the surrounding organs, such as the bladder or bowel, getting little to no radiation.
“As a result of this, the cure rate for this procedure is high, with minimal side effects. The procedure is done in theatre and involves a radiation oncologist, urologist, anaesthetist, medical physicist and oncology theatre nurse,” Ramiah said.
Professor Ahmed Adam, the head of the hospital’s urology department, said the procedure had a good side effect profile.
“The known side effects may include burning when passing urine, blood in the urine, retrograde ejaculation or discomfort passing stool, to name a few. However, the rates of occurrence of some of these side effects is low compared with other treatment modalities,” Adam said.
Ian Wakefield, who is the general manager for BD Africa, said this was just one of the ways in which their organisation could advance healthcare on the continent.