The American Brachytherapy Society Conference – Vancouver, British Columbia

Written by Camille Attwood | 11 Jul 2023

The American Brachytherapy Society (ABS) conference is an international multi-disciplinary meeting held annually, focussing on the radiation oncology treatment technique called ‘brachytherapy’. Brachytherapy is a treatment technique in which a radioactive source, about the size of a grain of rice, is placed in or adjacent to a solid tumour either temporarily or permanently. St George Cancer Care Centre (STGCCC) is the largest service provider of brachytherapy in Australia and New Zealand.

This year’s ABS conference was held in Vancouver, Canada and was attended by STGCCC radiation oncologists A/Prof Peter Graham and Dr. Joseph Bucci, as well as medical physicist Dr. Joel Poder. Attendance at international conferences such as these allow for our staff members to keep abreast of the most up to date clinical trial data and cutting-edge research in the field. The information gained at these meetings can then be brought back to the department and often results in the local adoption of new techniques and technologies.

Dr. Poder also participated at this conference as an invited panel member discussing the best-practice for skin brachytherapy.  High Dose Rate brachytherapy can be used to effectively treat a range of skin cancers.  As skin cancers come in all shapes and sizes, there is a large range of commercially available devices as well as options for custom moulds and 3D printing to determine the best option for each individual patient.  Joel’s presentation discusses the various options and highlights the issues associated with ensuring each patient receives the correct dose of radiation to cure the cancer while minimising side-effects.

While in Vancouver, our three staff members also took the opportunity to undertake a site visit at BC Cancer Agency radiation oncology department to observe how brachytherapy treatments are performed in their department. Site visits such as these provide valuable opportunities for staff members to share tips and tricks on treatment techniques, again resulting in the adoption of new techniques and technologies locally.