At the Center For Radiation Oncology, each breast cancer patient is offered an individualized treatment program tailored to address the unique set of medical, social and psychological factors impacting on the patient. We discuss all of the patient's questions and concerns not only relating to their radiation therapy but also regarding issues such as side effects from prior surgery, their overall cancer care, nutrition and diet needed to optimize health, follow-up care plan and what to expect long-term.
Important for all women is the understanding that prevention/early detection are essential to minimizing the impact of breast cancer on their lives. The medical community has made tremendous strides in terms of early detection with routine annual mammograms, clinical exams and education about breast self-exam; these measures are the triad that can in the majority of cases allow treatment before the disease becomes life-threatening. Early breast cancer is usually amenable to treatment with a conservative surgery (lumpectomy) and radiation therapy to the affected breast. This combination offers the same survival as mastectomy for early breast cancer.
New treatment option for select patients:
CFRO is now offering Breast Brachytherapy to select patients following a lumpectomy. This treatment sends high dose radiation to the lumpectomy site (the area where the cancer initially presented). Under CT guidance and local anesthesia, needles are placed in the breast around the lumpectomy site. These needles are replaced by plastic catheters when the treatment begins. The treatment is given through these catheters twice a day for 5 days, each treatment lasting 10-15 minutes. The entire breast is not treated, only the area of highest risk, or the lumpectomy site, and some surrounding normal breast tissue. At the end of treatment, the catheters are removed. The results of breast brachytherapy have been the same as for conventional radiation treatment.
Patients must meet certain criteria to benefit from this procedure: tumors less than 3 cm, limited DCIS, selected lobular carcinoma with or without lobular carcinoma in situ, node negative status. The procedure is tolerated well and the cosmetic result is excellent. Careful evaluation by our Physicians and nursing staff ensure the best treatment for each patient. See our news area for a more detailed explanation.
Conventional treatment option:
Radiation is a local therapy that is delivered as an out-patient on a daily basis Monday to Friday. Side-effects are limited to the area treated and consist primarily of a skin reaction that develops after the first two weeks of treatment. The skin heals quickly within 2 weeks after the radiation therapy is completed. Radiation is typically associated with a less than 5% chance of any long-term side-effects. After the entire breast is treated for approximately 5 weeks using high energy photons produced by a linear accelerator, a boost dose is delivered (typically about seven additional treatments) to the biopsy site using a selected electron energy that minimizes the dose to the normal tissues deep to the biopsy cavity. Some women experience some general fatigue following completion: however, the majority of patients maintain their usual activities.
In some cases due to tumor characteristics or involvement of the lymph nodes under the arm, radiation therapy is indicated following mastectomy. Breast cancer patients can also benefit from the tumor shrinking effects of radiation when the disease has spread to the bone or other sites and is causing symptoms such as pain.
We see our patients in follow-up on a routine basis and continue to communicate with the other physicians involved so that continuity of care is maintained.