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One-Time, One Dose Radiation Treatment Offered For Breast Cancer Patients At MedStar Georgetown University Hospital And MedStar Washington Hospital Center

"INTRABEAM changes that," said Marc E. Boisvert, MD, FACS, breast surgeon and medical director of the Center for Breast Health at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. "Now, for a select group of women receiving a lumpectomy, the radiation they receive in the operating room is the only radiation treatment they'll ever need. "

"It's known that most breast cancer recurrences after surgery occur in the same place as the original tumor," said Eleni Tousimis, MD, chief of Breast Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. "With INTRABEAM, we are targeting the radiation and only treating the original tumor bed, so we kill any residual cancer cells.  We also spare healthy breast tissue that whole-breast radiation may have negatively affected."

Getting the radiation adds another 20 to 40 minutes to the roughly 90 minute surgery, and the patient is asleep while the treatment is given.

INTRABEAM radiotherapy uses a miniaturized radiation device that generates low energy x-ray radiation. The device is inserted into the tumor bed right after the cancer is removed. The radiation is mostly absorbed over a 1-2 centimeter depth from the tumor cavity.  This allows for a significant reduction in the amount of radiation delivered to the surrounding healthy tissue.

In 2010 the results of a 28-center international study of more than 2200 patients called the TARGIT-A trial concluded that partial breast radiation is just as effective and less toxic when compared to whole-breast radiation for selected patients with early stage breast cancer.  The results were published in the Journal Lancet.

"We know that patient compliance with treatment is part of what determines a good outcome," said Dr. Boisvert. "And we know that the farther away a patient lives from the radiation center the less likely she is to complete her treatment."

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