HIGH DOSE RADIATION (HDR) brachytherapy
There are many treatments for skin tumours in horses, with varying success rates. The most difficult to treat are those around the eye, as options are limited by the location, and these are often aggressive and invasive lesions.
An exciting new form of radiotherapy for tumours such as sarcoids around the eye of the horse is now available. The Animal Health Trust’s innovative Cancer Centre is pioneering the technique which gives new hope for these difficult lesions. This uses a high dose radiation technique known as HDR brachytherapy.
HDR brachytherapy uses specialised technology to drive the radioactive source from a special shielded safe into the patient via catheters that are implanted directly into the tumour. Specialist imaging techniques are used to form a 3D reconstruction of the tumour to allow treatment planning. During planning, computer software is used to calculate the dose given to the tumour and the technique is so advanced, different areas of the tumour can be given different doses enabling a completely bespoke treatment for each horse.
This method drastically shortens treatment times and it is possible to deliver the full radiation dose in 5-10 minutes for each session. The typical treatment consists of two sessions delivered a week apart, which is given under standing sedation with the horse suitably restrained in stocks. During treatment there is no operator exposure risk, and the horse is completely radiation free as soon as the treatment is completed. The results to date are impressive, and it is expected that this method will become the standard approach to the treatment of all tumours around the eye of the horse.
The AHT is currently the only veterinary clinic in the UK that can offer HDR.