Review Article

HDR brachytherapy for anal cancer

Peter Niehoff, Gyoergy Kovács


The challenge of treating anal cancer is to preserve the anal sphincter function while giving high doses to the tumor and sparing the organ at risk. For that reason there has been a shift from radical surgical treatment with colostomy to conservative treatment. Radiotherapy combined with chemotherapy has an important role in the treatment of anal cancer patients. New techniques as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) have shown reduced acute toxicity and high rates of local control in combination with chemotherapy compared to conventional 3-D radiotherapy. Not only external beam radio-chemotherapy treatment (EBRT) is an established method for primary treatment of anal cancer, brachytherapy (BT) is also an approved method. BT is well known for boost irradiation in combination with EBRT (+/– chemotherapy). Because of technical developments like modern image based 3D treatment planning and the possibility of intensity modulation in brachytherapy (IMBT), BT today has even more therapeutic potential than it had in the era of linear sources. The combination of external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) and BT allows the clinician to deliver higher doses to the tumor and to reduce dose to the normal issue. Improvements in local control and reductions in toxicity therefore become possible. Various BT techniques and their results are discussed in this work.

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