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One Week Radiation Effective Breast Cancer Treatment E-mail
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Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) using a type of radiation seed implants called balloon brachytherapy, a newer type of radiation treatment that offers more convenience to early-stage breast cancer patients by shortening radiation therapy from the standard six to seven weeks of treatment to only one week, is as effective in keeping breast cancer from coming back as the standard external beam radiation treatment, according to a study presented September 22, 2008, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th Annual Meeting in Boston.

"Not only does it make radiation treatment much more convenient, it may actually increase the rate of breast conservation, since some women choose mastectomy because they live too far from a radiation center and cannot afford the time and expense of six to seven weeks of living or traveling to the center," Peter Beitsch, M.D., lead author of the study and a surgical oncologist at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, said. "Also, there are many women with breast cancer who for a host of reasons don't receive the necessary postoperative radiation and the shortened course should hopefully allow more women to receive the therapy that they need."

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 breast cancer (a lumpectomy) followed by a course of radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain. The standard breast cancer radiation therapy treatment takes a few minutes, every day, Monday through Friday, for six to seven weeks.

Brachytherapy is one of several methods of APBI, which treats only the area surrounding the tumor, instead of the whole breast. 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 that delivers high doses of radiation via tiny radioactive seeds into the lumpectomy cavity.

The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) MammoSite RTS Registry Trial evaluated data from more than 1,400 women with early stage breast cancer who were treated with balloon brachytherapy using the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System, one type of breast brachytherapy. In this study, 400 women were followed for nearly four years and results show that women with early-stage breast cancer who are treated with APBI using this type of balloon brachytherapy had the same chance of the cancer returning as those who had the standard radiation treatment.

For more information on radiation therapy for breast cancer, visit http://newswise.com/articles/view/544312/www.rtanswers.org.

About Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a malignant (cancerous) tumor that starts from cells of the breast. The disease occurs mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer too. In the U.S., it affects one in eight women. There are many types of breast cancer, though some of them are very rare. Sometimes a breast tumor can be a combination of these types and to have a mixture of invasive and in situ cancer. The most common types of breast cancer are:
  • Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS): This is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer (85 - 90% of all cases). DCIS means that the cancer is only in the ducts. It has not spread through the walls of the ducts into the tissue of the breast. Nearly all women with cancer at this stage can be cured. Often the best way to find DCIS early is with a mammogram.
  • Lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS): This condition which occurs in approximately 8% of all cases, begins in the milk-making glands but does not go through the wall of the lobules. Although not a true cancer, having LCIS increases a woman's risk of getting cancer later. For this reason, it's important that women with LCIS to follow the screening guidelines for breast cancer.
Less common are:
  • Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC): This uncommon type of invasive breast cancer accounts for about 1% to 3% of all breast cancers. Usually there is no single lump or tumor. Instead, inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) makes the skin of the breast look red and feel warm. It also gives the skin a thick, pitted appearance that looks a lot like an orange peel. Doctors now know that these changes are not caused by inflammation or infection, but by cancer cells blocking lymph vessels in the skin. The breast may become larger, firmer, tender, or itchy. IBC is often mistaken for an infection in its early stages. Because there is no defined lump, it may not appear on a mammogram, which may make it even harder to catch it early. It usually has a higher chance of spreading and a worse outlook than invasive ductal or lobular cancer.
  • Paget's disease of the nipple. Paget's disease of the nipple or breast is a rare type of breast cancer, which can occur in women and men. It shows up in and around the nipple, and usually signals the presence of breast cancer beneath the skin. Most cases are found in menopausal women, but can also appear in women that are as young as 20. Early stages symptoms include redness, scaly and flaky, and mild irritation of nipple skin. Advanced stages may include: tingling in nipple skin, very sensitive skin on the nipple, burning or painful nipple skin, ooze or bloody discharge from the nipple (not milk), itchiness that doesn't respond to creams, nipple retraction (pulls into the breast), scaly rash on areola skin, and/or breast lump beneath the affected skin.
Symptoms of Breast Cancer:
  • a lump or a thickening in the breast or in the armpit. Note Most breast lumps are benign (be-nine); that is, they are not cancer. Benign breast tumors are abnormal growths, but they do not spread outside of the breast and they are not life threatening. But some benign breast lumps can increase a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. Most lumps turn out to be caused by fibrocystic (fi-bro-sis-tik) changes. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs. Fibrosis is the formation of scar-like tissue. Such changes can cause breast swelling and pain. The breasts may feel lumpy, and sometimes there is a clear or slightly cloudy nipple discharge.
  • a change of size or shape of the mature breast
  • fluid (not milk) leaking from the nipple
  • a change of size or shape of the nipple
  • a change of color or texture of the nipple or the areola, or of the skin of the breast itself (dimples, puckers, rash)
  • a discharge from the breast
 
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