Monday, 29 September 2014 13:56

Breast Cancer Treatment in as Little as One Day

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Treating breast cancer is not “cook book” medicine. One treatment plan does not fit all women. Treatment approaches vary depending on the stage of disease at diagnosis and can include surgery, chemotherapy, endocrine treatment and radiation.

Mammographic technology has significantly improved over the last several decades and helps detect cancer in its earliest stages before it has spread to the lymph nodes in the axilla or other parts of the body. The earlier the stage of the cancer at diagnosis, the better the chance of successful treatment.

The majority of women with early stage breast cancer do not need a mastectomy and are candidates for breast-conserving surgeries. Such surgeries called lumpectomy or partial mastectomy remove only the tumor with a rim of surrounding normal breast tissue.

Radiation treatment is then usually delivered to all the remaining breast tissue in an attempt to destroy any residual cancer cells.  This is called Whole Breast Radiation (WBRT) and is administered daily over a period of four to six weeks. The chance of cancer recurring in the breast after radiation is very small and studies show survival rates with WBRT are comparable to a mastectomy.

Intraoperative Radiation (IORT) has recently been shown to be a viable alternative to WBRT. It delivers a single high dose of radiation at the time of lumpectomy to the tumor bed.

IORT is performed by placing a balloon-based catheter with a miniaturized x-ray source directly into the tumor bed for about 10 minutes. It delivers a  high dose  of radiation directly to the area of the breast where the tumor was located, sparing the rest of the normal breast tissue as well as the underlying rib cage, heart and lung.

Hospitals and oncology centers   are  using IORT with the Xoft® Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx®) System® to treat some women with early stage breast cancers.

A national clinical study to gauge the system’s effectiveness is underway, and since May 2013, 46 local women have been treated with IORT. While follow up is still in progress, we have been extremely pleased with the cosmetic outcomes and absence of local failures to date.

Patients have been delighted by the ease and convenience of this treatment, which allows them to quickly return to their normal activities, as it requires one treatment at the time of a lumpectomy surgery.

While studies are on-going to determine the most appropriate patients for this procedure, women over the age of 50 with small, single tumors that are surgically removed with good margins and where the cancer has not spread to the axillary lymph nodes appear to be the best candidates for IORT.

Treating breast cancer is a multidisciplinary approach. Your team of cancer specialists will determine which treatment modalities are best suited to treat your cancer.

Additional Info

  • Edition: Prince William
  • Year: 2018
  • Month: October
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