Breast Cancer Treatment Gets Faster

A new form of breast cancer treatment that is less invasive is being called a significant advance in cancer treatment.
It is a form of radiation treatment, but it targets a much smaller area of the breast and it is done in just a fraction of the time that conventional treatment takes.

"There are some patients who don't need to have whole breast reduction," said Dr. Timothy Boyd, a radiation oncologist at Hartford Hospital.

A patient who undergoes a lumpectomy often needs radiation.  The typical treatment schedule will last six to seven weeks.  The advanced treatment, using a device called a "Contura Balloon Catheter," can cut the required time to as few as five days, Boyd said.
The catheter is inserted into the breast and the balloon fills the area where the lump was removed.  The catheter is designed with five channels, replacing an older design built around one channel.  The radiation is delivered directly into the breast through the five channels.

"That allows us to shape the radiation dose a bit better and accommodate different cavity shapes and different tumor sizes and different locations in the breast," said Boyd.

Thea Squiers, a retired nurse from Enfield, was one of the most recent patients to try the new technique.  She said she was a little worried because it was new, but she said she also thought it was an excellent idea.

"Being in the medical profession, I pretty much kind of had an idea (of what to expect )," Squiers said. 

After a small lump was detected and an ultrasound performed, Squiers said she just wanted to expedite the treatment.

Squiers said she could not be happier with the results.  Her life, she said, has returned to normal.

"As far as they're concerned, I'm cured," Squires said about her doctors and her condition.  "I'm a survivor and hopefully we'll just go from there and nothing else will occur," she said in a recent interview.

Patients are carefully screened to make sure their tumors are small enough and that the cancer has not spread, said Boyd.
This is not an option for all patients.

"In the patients that have gone through the procedure, it's almost universal satisfaction as afar as decreased amount of time, decreased toxicity to the entire breast, and improvement in their quality of life," Boyd added.

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