Women with gynecologic cancers can now receive the newest, most advanced brachytherapy treatment without leaving Montgomery County. Houston Methodist Cancer Center at The Woodlands is the first cancer center in Texas to offer the newest HDR (high dose rate) afterloader designed with smart technology.


“Brachytherapy is where we treat cancer by placing a tiny radioactive source directly into or next to the cancer or area that needs treatment,” said Dr. Peter Morgan, oncologist and medical director of Houston Methodist Cancer Center at The Woodlands. “’Afterloader’ means we place the applicator where we need it and then load the radiation source. Rather than treating the cancer with radiation from outside the body, this allows us to offer more targeted high dose radiation to a tumor with much less of the dose affecting other areas.”


The new HDR afterloader is part of an integrated system designed to simplify brachytherapy treatment, provide greater workflow efficiency, and improve the experience of patients and clinicians. Its smart features include a fast and precise position verification method that is recordable and reproducible and works with a software that uses 3-D imaging to help plan the treatment. It has built-in, customizable safety check lists with electronic signature verification; and it offers interoperability with a specialized information system that aggregates and organizes patient data.


One of the most important benefits, according to Morgan, is that it allows the physician to perform safety measures without leaving the room as older afterloaders required.


“Being able to check everything while remaining with your patient allows you to talk to them and explain what is going on. It makes the whole experience better for the patient. It’s just a better way to do it,” added Morgan.


Houston Methodist The Woodlands built a dedicated HDR suite for these procedures, which gives patients privacy during treatment and recovery.


“This makes such a difference for our patients,” added Morgan. “We have gotten a great response so far.”


According to Houston Methodist The Woodlands CEO Debbie Sukin, the hospital’s commitment to offering comprehensive cancer care in one location is more important now than ever.


“Providing this level of care in the same building as all of our other cancer services alleviates stress for patients, especially during a pandemic when cancer patients are more vulnerable and trying to limit the number of places they go,” said Sukin. “This is another way we are investing in the safety and wellbeing of our community.”


The Cancer Center is currently using the new technology to treat gynecologic cancers with plans to treat breast, prostate and skin cancers in the future.


Patients needing cancer treatment should not put off receiving care due to fear of COVID-19. All offices on The Houston Methodist The Woodlands campus are performing temperature checks and requiring patients, guests and staff to wear masks and social distance.


Visit houstonmethodist.org/cancer/locations/woodlands or call 936.270.3413 to learn more about Houston Methodist Cancer Center at The Woodlands or to schedule an appointment.