Radiation Seeds for Breast Cancer
TORONTO (Ivanhoe Broadcast News) -- June McNamee counts her family among her many blessings. They were her lifeline when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. What she dreaded most was weeks of intensive radiation.
"My son's next-door neighbor had breast cancer, and had radiation. She had skin discoloration, and she had burning," McNamee says. So she jumped at the chance to join a clinical trial testing a new therapy.
Radiation treatment is often necessary for breast cancer patients to ensure remaining cancer cells don't come back after a lumpectomy. It can be painful, time consuming, and emotionally and physically draining. But instead of going in for weeks of intense radiation, McNamee was injected with permanent radiation implants.
In a one-time procedure, doctors insert needles in the breast that are loaded with small titanium seeds.
"These seeds are radioactive and will treat the area for the next two months," Radiation Oncologist Jean-Philippe Pignol, M.D., of Sunnybrook Regional Cancer Centre in Toronto, tells Ivanhoe.
The seeds continuously deliver the radiation until it's gone, and they don't have to be removed. That means patients have only one short procedure instead of weeks of disruption. In a study of 44 patients, all participants responded well and none had their cancer return.
This is the first time permanent radiation implants have been tested on breast cancer patients. Other temporary implants had to be removed. Also, researchers tested the patients' spouses for radiation exposure and found no evidence of harmful levels.
Dr. Pignol says, "Basically the patient can live a normal life. Go home, take care of kids. Do the normal things they want to do like going to work."
"I have the same lifestyle now as I did before the cancer," McNamee says. She resumes the busy roles of wife, mother and doting grandma. "When you look at the little grandchildren, you want to be around. You want to be there for them," she says, and she believes this treatment will allow her that chance.
This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Sunnybrook Regional Medical Centre
(Only Canadian citizens can receive treatment at medical institutions in Canada.)