Dr. Theodore H. Schwartz and Dr. A. Gabriella Wernicke Achieve Breakthrough Use of Cesium-131 for Intracavitary Brachytherapy in Malignant Brain Tumor

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06-01-2011

Intracavitary brachytherapy is a minimally invasive technique used to line a surgical cavity with radioactive seeds — cancer-fighting radioisotopes encased in capsules the size of a rice grain — after removal of malignant disease. This procedure delivers high-dose radiation to the tumor cavity margin to prevent recurrence of microscopic disease in patients with malignant brain tumors.

Dr. Schwartz and Dr. A. Gabriella Wernicke from the Department of Radiation Oncology were the first to perform the 15-minute procedure with cesium-131 — a radioactive isotope with a shorter half-life and higher energy level than other agents in use, assuring rapid and safe delivery. The radioactive isotopes release a radiation dose tailored to individual patient needs over a period of days. For patients with malignant brain tumors, the use of cesium-131 seeds can eliminate the need for additional external radiation therapy. In some patients, implantation of brachytherapy may offer hope for additional therapy to maintain their quality of life when other treatments have failed.

This medical achievement was made possible by a collaborative effort between Dr. Schwartz's team, Dr. Wernicke's department of Radiation Oncology, and IsoRay Medical, the company that makes the radioactive seeds. For more information, please call the office of Dr. Schwartz at 212-746-5620.