By December 31, an estimated 212,920 women will have been diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in 2006. Approximately 63.7 percent of patients were diagnosed when the disease was still in its localized stage. Thanks to earlier detection, many women now have access to newer, less invasive treatments that enable faster recovery.
The detection of tumors in the early stage has allowed a growing number of breast cancer patients to opt for breast conservation therapy, which involves tumor excision via lumpectomy, followed by radiation therapy to reduce the likelihood of recurrence. According to the National Institutes of Health, breast conserving surgery plus radiotherapy is preferable to total mastectomy because it provides survival equivalence while preserving the breast.
Dr. Robert Wollman is Medical Director of the Radiation Oncology Department at Saint John’s Health Center and has devoted his professional life “to finding more cures for cancer with fewer side effects.” In addition to the conventional radiation therapy regimen for breast cancer, Dr. Wollman is using the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System. “This form of treatment, developed to make it easier for women to consider the choice of lumpectomy vs. mastectomy, offers patients a more rapid way of receiving radiation therapy. Because it is targeted to a specific area of the breast, patients experience far less skin reaction and fatigue than with standard radiation. The treatment course is dramatically shortened from daily treatments from six to seven consecutive weeks to two five-minute treatments daily for just one week.”
Tested in a clinical trial, MammoSite is the mostly widely used therapy in a category called Partial Breast Irradiation (PBI) and has been used to treat more than 20,000 breast cancer patients. The first four-year data presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in October 2005 demonstrated that no patients experienced recurrence after treatment with MammoSite. A five-year follow-up study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that PBI, using a similar technique to MammoSite, produces comparable results to conventional whole breast radiation therapy in preventing breast cancer recurrence in appropriately selected women treated with breast conservation therapy.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons and the American Brachytherapy Society recommend PBI be considered in women over the age of 45 with small total tumor size (three centimeters or less) and no lymph node involvement, among other selection criteria. Published data on the use of MammoSite involving more than 1,400 patients reports low local recurrence rates and good to excellent cosmetic results.
For further information, contact your own doctor or Dr. Wollman, who can be reached at 310.829.8913.