Dr Lara Sandri (Retina Surgery Centre) and JEH hopsital launched the first private ocular oncology service in July 2018. Radiotherapy in the form of an applicator (plaque) can be used to deliver radiation in the treatment of several different ocular tumours.
Plaque brachytherapy is the most widely used treatment for such tumours and delivers a highly concentrated radiation dose to the tumor (with relatively less radiation to surrounding healthy tissues). Plaque brachytherapy is typically used in one definitive treatment.
Previously in South Africa the radiation sources used for brachytherapy came in the form of small “rice-sized” radioactive seeds (Iodine). These seeds were attached within a gold or steel bowl called a plaque and were manufactured for each individual patient based on the dimensions and location of the tumour.
Since launching this service in 2018, Ruthenium -106 plaques are available for the treatment of ocular tumours. This is a softer treatment when compared to Iodine plaques. There is no need to individually manufacture plaques for patients which enables treatments to be carried out shortly after diagnosis.
Treatment times vary based on the thickness of the tumour. During this time, patients are admitted to our hospital in a private room while the plaque is in place. Visitors are permitted as they are not at risk of radiation exposure.
Malignant (cancerous) tumours
- Anterior segment melanoms (conjunctiva and iris)
- Ocular surface squamous neoplasia (OSSN)
- Ciliary body and choroidal melanoma
Benign (non-cancerous) tumours
- Choroidal haemangiomas
- Vasoproliferative tumours
- Capillary haemangiomas in Von Hippel Lindau Disease
- Retinal haemangiomas