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[Brachytherapy: When needs overtake care offer].


Brachytherapy has the unique characteristic of being able to deliver high doses to a very localized volume, and remains one of the radiotherapy techniques that has an unparalleled therapeutic index. However, its use has been declining in the past years. Globally, only 55 to 88 % of patients with locally advanced cervical cancer benefit from utero-vaginal brachytherapy, despite the fact that it is proven to enhance both progression-free and overall survival. A decline in the use of low dose rate brachytherapy has likewise been described in the treatment of low-risk and favorable intermediate-risk prostate cancers. Several factors could explain this. First, the radiation oncologists who have the proficiency to perform brachytherapy seems to be inadequate, as it is a technique that requires training and expertise for optimal applications. In many cancer care centers, the caseload is insufficient to provide this experience. Second, the increasing use of technically advanced external beam radiation therapy, such as intensity modulated radiation therapy, offers an easier substitute with more lucrative benefits, resulting in decreased utilization of brachytherapy. However, when brachytherapy is not delivered, a poorer survival rate is reported in locally advanced cervical cancer, and is suggested in intermediate and high-risk prostate cancer. The increasing level of evidence of treatment with brachytherapy necessitates an improvement in its accessibility by having more radiation oncologists as well as cancer centers equipped to perform the procedure. Copyright © 2019 Société Française du Cancer. Published by Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.