Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Futuristic Breast Cancer Treatment Arrives Radiation 'Seeds' Minimize Side Effects

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Futuristic Breast Cancer Treatment Arrives Radiation 'Seeds' Minimize Side Effects

Article excerpt

Byline: P. Douglas Filaroski, Times-Union staff writer

A Jacksonville woman was among the nation's first to receive breast cancer follow-up that plants radioactive "seeds" around tumor sites.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved for women a new device using targeted internal radiation, long available to men with prostate cancer.

Physicians say the improved method of brachytherapy could help tens of thousands of women by preventing cancer from returning after removal of lumps.

The device uses a catheter inserted into a woman's breast. A balloon at the end of the catheter targets radiation in and around the cavity from which the tumor was removed.

The treatment lasts five days -- much shorter than the six to seven weeks women usually spend receiving external radiation after a lumpectomy.

The longer and physically taxing follow-up is a reason women with small tumors caught early often opt for disfiguring total breast removal, or mastectomies.

Johnell Hudson of Jacksonville was the first Northeast Florida woman to receive the treatment this week at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Jacksonville.

"My granddaughter went through [traditional radiation treatment] and was as sick as a dog," Hudson said. "I haven't felt bad at all."

The FDA approved the device by manufacturer Proxima Therapeutics after the device proved safe in clinical tests on 25 cancer patients.

Doctors and researchers hope the device can replace external radiation treatment for many women, but some doctors are awaiting more long-term studies.

The American Cancer Society estimates about 203,500 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. About 70 percent will have lumpectomies.

Oncologist Frank Vicini of William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan published a study suggesting women who received brachytherapy did as well five years later as women who got traditional external radiation.

Although cruder forms of brachytherapy have been used on a small number of women, Beaumont hopes the easier and more effective device will entice many more physicians. …

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