By Anthony J. Capizzi M.D.
The widespread use of mammography for the screening and diagnosis of breast disease is resulting in the early detection of smaller breast cancers. Because of this, the majority of patients being treated are undergoing partial mastectomies or lumpectomies followed by radiation treatment. The conventional treatment thus far has been external beam radiation therapy directed at the entire breast usually on a daily basis for a period of four to six weeks. In addition to the inconvenience of having to physically go to the radiation unit for treatments, there are many side effects including radiation burns to the skin.
One of the more recent and exciting advances in the treatment of breast cancer is the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System (RTS) which is currently being used in many cancer centers treating high volumes of breast cancer patients. Now, many patients found to be eligible candidates can be treated with this form of partial breast radiation. MammoSite RTS is a small, balloon attached to a catheter which is placed into the biopsy cavity. This procedure is performed in office and arrangements are made for radiation therapy to be given directly through this catheter. Treatments are delivered twice a day for five days on an outpatient basis at the hospital. Studies have shown that the procedure is very well tolerated by the patient and the benefits are many, including reduced side effects and good cosmetic results.
Key factors in determining eligibility for this innovative process are the patient's age, the size of the tumor and the lymph node status. MammoSite RTS will, in the future, be a mainstay in the treatment of breast cancer and while not all patients are suitable candidates for MammoSite RTS, many can be treated using this modality.
Anthony J. Capizzi, a board certified surgeon with memberships in the American Society of Breast Surgeons and NY Metropolitan Breast Cancer Group, may be reached at his West Islip office at (631) 669-3700.