PROJECT: 05-DJC:174.9

This is Deirdre's Breast Cancer Diary. I try to update this blog at least every evening. This is an easy way for me to keep a journal of the experience, and at the same time, I can keep my friends and family up-to-date on what is going on. I find it is not so bad to have cancer, but it is awfully depressing to talk about it. I hope you laugh as you read along. You can find the beginning in February ...in the archives. Thanks again for reading :o)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New Breast Cancer Treatment

From the news tonight.
Treating Breast Cancer With One Radiation Dose?
Jun 27, 2005 4:28 pm US/Pacific
(CBS 5) For most women, a breast cancer diagnosis surgery followed by six months of difficult radiation treatments. But a Bay Area clinical trial is showing that one dose of radiation may soon be enough.
When early-stage breast cancer recurs, the disease often attacks the same site. So after surgery, patients get a long course of radiation to kill any remaining cancerous cells. That lengthy treatment comes at a cost for patients.
“There is pronounced fatigue, there is also a fairly dramatic skin reaction that happens,” UCSF Radiotherapist Allison Bevan says.
Many patients also live far away from quality radiation centers. Rather than make the trip for daily radiation, some choose to undergo a mastectomy to remove the site of the cancer. Now, UCSF doctors are testing a new approach that may provide a third option for cancer sufferers.
The “Targit” device is designed to work in a single use. The wand-like device is inserted into the breast immediately after the tumor is removed. It delivers 25 minutes of radiation to the surgical site before it is taken out, and the patient is stitched up.
"When a patient wakes up, and they¹re all done with treatment and they go home," says Dr. Bevan
Women say the new procedure provides a huge psychological advantage over previous treatments. Judy Walker lives in Reading, four hours from her treatment center at UCSF. After she was diagnosed in February, she entered the Targit trial.
“My mood is really well, because I’m done with it,” Walker says. “I didn’t get radiation all over the place. I got right where I needed it."
Laura Esserman is Director of the UCSF Breast Care Center. She says the trial is open to postmenopausal women, forty-five and older, who have early-stage, low-risk breast cancers.
"There is no question that being able to give a single dose of therapy in the operating room is infinitely easier on patients. What we need to prove now is that its just as effective,” says Dr. Esserman. “For some patients, it's going to be great. For other patients, it may not work so well.”
To get more data, surgeons also take a tissue sample to study how each woman responds to a single dose of radiation. So far, twenty patients have been treated, with dramatically reduced side effects.
“I was amazed. I’m tired, but that's about it,” Walker says.
Researchers say that the new treatment could also be far less costly that traditional radiation.
Dr. Kim Mulvihill
(© MMV, CBS Broadcasting Inc., All Rights Reserved.)

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