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New one week radiation treatment for breast cancer patients offers promising results


A new method of radiation -- accelerated partial breast irradiation using balloon brachytherapy -- makes it more convenient for breast cancer patients to receive radiation therapy after surgery and appears to be safe, offer good cosmetic results, and keep cancer from coming back, according to four-year results of an ongoing study presented October 17, 2005, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology’s 47th Annual Meeting in Denver.

"This radiation technique is an excellent option for women with early breast tumors, especially those who are unable to have the standard six-week course of radiation, due to time constraints," said Martin Keisch, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Center in Miami Beach, Florida. "There are 100,000 women per year in this country alone that could benefit from this treatment."

Many women with breast cancer are able to undergo breast conserving therapy to keep their breast after treatment. Typically, this means they first have surgery to remove the cancer (a lumpectomy) followed by a course of radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain. The standard radiation therapy treatment takes a few minutes, every day, Monday through Friday, for five to seven weeks. Radiation oncologists are experimenting with ways to shorten the length of treatment.

During this type of breast brachytherapy, after the tumor has been removed from the breast, the doctor inserts a small balloon into the cavity. That balloon is then attached to a catheter to deliver high doses of radiation to the breast. The treatment reduces the amount of time required for radiation therapy from six weeks to only one. Brachytherapy is one of several methods of accelerated partial breast irradiation, which treats only the area surrounding the tumor, instead of the whole breast.

The multi-center prospective trial involves 43 breast cancer patients who were treated with MammoSite brachytherapy and are being followed over a ten-year period. After a median time of 48 months from treatment, no patients have seen their cancer return and the cosmetic outcome was reported as "good-to-excellent" in 80 percent of the women.

For more information on radiation therapy for breast cancer, please visit

Dr. Keisch will be presenting the study at 10:15 a.m. on October 17 in Room 205 of the Colorado Convention Center. If you would like a copy of the abstract, "Forty-Eight Month Results with the MammoSite Brachytherapy Applicator: Details Regarding Cosmesis, Toxicity and Local Control in Partial Breast Irradiation" or would like to speak to the lead author of the study, Martin Keisch, M.D., please call Beth Bukata or Nick Lashinsky October 16-20 in the ASTRO Press Room at the Colorado Convention Center at 303-288-8454 or 303-228-8455. You may also e-mail them at or

Beth Bukata | EurekAlert!
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