Rhino receives skin cancer brachytherapy

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A 40-year old Indian rhinoceros at the Los Angeles Zoo received a brachytherapy treatment for skin cancer this week.

Randa, the rhinoceros, underwent electronic brachytherapy after the zoo’s veterinary staff diagnosed the animal with recurrent squamous cell carcinoma under her horn.   

The cancer treatment platform--which has been designed to deliver electronic, x-ray based therapy to the cancer sites--was administered to Randa in two fractions in her habitat. 

The therapy system, Xofts’ Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx), utilizes miniaturized x-ray tube technology to apply a dose of isotope-free radiation directly to a tumor target.  

Leah Greer, DVM, and other members of the zoo’s veterinary staff worked with radiation oncologists and oncology surgeons from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, as well as with scientists from Xoft, in treating Randa. Due to the accessibility of the radiation treatments, zoo veterinarians were able to remain with Randa while treatment was administered.   

“Although the coordination of care was very complex, the treatment delivery of the electronic brachytherapy went very smoothly,” said Michael Steinberg, MD, chair of the UCLA department of radiation oncology.

“We are very happy with the outcome of Randa’s cancer treatment and her recovery,” said Greer. “After the treatment sessions were completed, she quickly returned to her normal attitude; acting years younger and entertaining zoo visitors.”

Positive post-treatment results have been currently reported, and the zoo hopes the treatment will result in a permanent cure with no recurrence for the rhino. 

The Axxent System has been cleared by the FDA for accelerated treatment of early stage breast cancer, skin cancer and endometrial indications and was designed for the delivery of radiation oncology in medical and veterinary practices.