The invention is a radioactive gel for treatment of soft tissue cancers. This compliant, biocompatible gel infused with radioactive elements is meant to provide cosmetic tissue restoration as it fills out cavities resulting from tumor removal (e.g. lumpectomies). Once in the cavity, the material delivers precisely dosaged and localized radiation therapy (also known as brachytherapy) to the affected tissues around it.
Brachytherapy is a type of a cancer treatment, in which radioactive sources (e.g.: seeds, ribbons, wires, needles) are placed in or near the tumor, either temporarily or permanently. In this manner, an adequate radiation dose is delivered directly to the area affected by cancer, while the radiation exposure of the surrounding healthy tissues is negligent. The main advantage of brachytherapy over more common external beam radiation treatments is minimization of gamma irradiation of the healthy tissues and organs, and, consequently, mitigation of the associated side effects, such as additional scarring of muscle tissues, exposure of the lungs to radiation (which may increase the risk of subsequent malignancies), burning of the skin, osteoporosis, nausea, and diarrhea. However, brachytherapy has its own drawbacks, which include tedious implantation of radioactive elements and complex dosimetry calculations. For example, in the case of breast cancer, multiple radioactive thin rods are repeatedly inserted for a set time and then removed in order to perform brachytherapy.
UCI researchers are now proposing to use radioactive bio-compatible gels for brachytherapy of soft tissues in order to eliminate many of the therapy’s shortcomings, simplify radiation dosimetry, and, simultaneously, enable aesthetic reconstruction of the affected areas. The researchers have recently confirmed that an injection of radioactive bone cement with embedded high-energy beta emitters will provide a therapeutic dose of radiation to a malignant tissue. However, stiff cement cannot be implanted into soft tissues, as the material’s low compliance may cause injury and aesthetic incompatibilities. Thus, a substance that is analogous to radioactive bone cement but designed for use in soft tissues is desirable. Brachytherapy with this type of radioactive gel would require only a single injection into a void created by the surgical removal of a tumor, and would provide a precise, therapeutic amount of radiation only to the gel-adjacent tissue. In addition, the brachytherapeutic use of the gel would provide cosmetic benefits by filling voids left from tumor removal. One example of such application would be a therapeutic breast implant for a lumpectomy patient.
This technology offers a convenient, easy to dosage form of radiotherapy for soft tissues while providing cosmetic benefits.
Radiation cancer therapy for soft tissues, brachytherapy
• Efficiently combines radiotherapy and cosmetic restoration in one procedure
• Simplified and less expensive dosimetry
• Less painful and emotionally upsetting than currently available similar treatments (repeated insertions of radioactive rods and placement of multiple radioactive seeds)
• Reduces amount of time spent at a doctor’s office for treatments
This concept builds on a similar previous invention related to bone cancer treatment.