New type of radiation adds boost to cancer treatments

December 10, 2010 5:05:12 PM PST
It's scary to have breast cancer and go through surgery and radiation. But now there's something new that may give women a little extra peace of mind, something new to give cancer treatment an extra boost. These extra booster treatments may kill cancer cells that other treatments missed.

Bertha Kees received something new that's becoming a trend in breast cancer treatment. She had radiation and then five "booster" radiation treatments after radiation.

"It was something new that they hadn't used before, and that it would help me," Kees said.

So Kees agreed to have the booster treatment. Here's how it works: the surgeon removes the cancer and marks the area with clips.

"That tells us where the greatest chance of any residual cells might be," Radiation Oncologist Dr. Robert Prestidge said.

Then using a mammogram, a booster dose of radiation is aimed at this area which is where the cancer is most likely to recur.

"This allows us to see what we're hitting," Prestidge said.

The Accuboost treatments don't take the place of regular radiation; they come after it, a kind of "booster" treatment.

Kees took five booster radiation treatments, saying it wasn't as bad a mammogram.

"It was simple, it was pleasant; there wasn't any pain involved in it," she said.

"A couple of women who have taken a short nap; a couple of them brought books and they sit here and read for a few minutes while the treatment is going on; they don't feel there's no sensation to the treatment," Prestidge said.

Another advantage is that this radiation only goes through the breast -- not into the chest cavity, the lungs or the heart.

But doctors say the booster radiation only works on small cancers and cancers that aren't too deep.

"If we find it in Stage 1 or Stage 2, typically we can use this treatment for most patients," Prestidge said.

Just a little extra protection for women in the area cancer is most likely to recur.


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