By Carisa Almquist, health education intern
With many cancer treatment methods available, it can be difficult to know what the best option is for you personally. Thankfully, the team at the Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) provides the most personalized care plan possible by offering the highest level of treatment options.
An example of the innovative options that SCI provides for patients is the Breast Microseed Treatment™ from Concure Oncology.® SCI is the first cancer center in the United States to offer this treatment option to patients with early-stage breast cancer. The goal of Breast Microseed Treatment is to provide simpler and more convenient treatment so that patients can return back to daily life while still receiving the highest level of treatment that they deserve.
Breast Microseed Treatment uses brachytherapy radiation following a lumpectomy (the surgical removal of cancerous breast tissue, or tumor). Brachytherapy radiation has been effectively used for several decades, most commonly for prostate cancer but for many other cancer types as well. Brachytherapy radiation is the precise placement of radioactive “seeds” within the body. Over time, these seeds slowly release a prescribed dose of radiation to the cancerous area. Seeds are inserted where the tumor once was, specifically targeting the places where cancer could return. A patient choosing Breast Microseed Treatment will have seeds placed in locations unique to them, in order to best target the cancerous area and ensure that the cancer will be successfully treated.
Benefits of Breast Microseed Treatment
There are many benefits to choosing Breast Microseed Treatment as part of a treatment plan. Patients are able to have the seeds implanted in a one-time, one-hour outpatient procedure and are able to resume their normal activities the next day. These seeds cannot be felt within the breast, and the procedure results in minimal to no scarring. The internal radiation poses very minimal risk of exposure to loved ones. Due to the seed’s titanium covering, they are safe to leave in the body, safe for MRIs, and women can continue with routine mammograms after the radiation dose is complete.
Extra excitement for traveling patients
SCI radiation oncologist Dr. Stephen Eulau identifies Breast Microseed Treatment as a historic and groundbreaking treatment option for early-stage breast cancer patients. Reasons include not only the simplicity and convenience of a one-hour treatment, as opposed to daily radiation appointments, but also because patients are able to benefit from reduced symptoms and side effects of conventional treatment. Compared to conventional radiation, patients using Breast Microseed Treatment experience less burning, pain and cosmetic damage to their breasts. Dr. Eulau is excited for patients who do travel great distances to receive treatment at SCI, as they will benefit the most from the convenience this radiation method provides. Many early stage breast cancer patients who travel for their care are faced with the difficult decision to have a mastectomy (the surgical removal of the whole breast), whereas nearby patients have the option to conserve their breasts with a less-invasive lumpectomy surgery and conventional radiation. The reason a patient may choose to have a mastectomy is to protect their health and keep the cancer from spreading because either moving or traveling daily to receive radiation treatment would be impossible. Now, with Breast Microseed Treatment, traveling patients can conserve their breasts, receive the treatment and return home sooner. No matter how near or far a patient must travel, there are many advantages of Breast Microseed Treatment when it comes to cosmetic outcomes and overall quality of life.
EligibilityYou may be eligible for this new treatment if:
- Diagnosis is early-stage breast cancer (stage 0, 1, 2)
- 50 years of age or older
- Tumor measures 3 cm or smaller and is removed by lumpectomy
- No involvement of lymph nodes
Although Breast Microseed Treatment can be effective and convenient for many patients, not all patients are eligible due to personal factors. As always, it is best to consult with your doctor regarding the best treatment plan for you.
This article is from the Winter 2016 issue of Life to the Fullest, the newsletter from the Swedish Cancer Institute dedicated to those with cancer, cancer survivors, and their family members and caregivers.