According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
Survival rates from breast cancer have been increasing since about 1989, with more prevalent increases in women younger than 50. These increases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment options.
The physicians at Illinois CyberKnife, a service of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, are committed to conducting research that will lead to a better understanding of radiation therapy treatment options for various types of cancer, including breast cancer.
Radiation therapy is often used to treat breast cancer after a tumor is removed. Traditionally, radiation has been given to a patient’s entire breast over the course of seven weeks to increase the chance that any cancer cells remaining in the lumpectomy area are destroyed. Healthy cells, as well as cancer cells, can be affected by radiation. Partial breast irradiation, a newer technique, minimizes exposure to the rest of the breast, skin, ribs, lungs and heart. Partial breast irradiation treats only the immediate area surrounding the original tumor, where breast cancer is most likely to recur. Because partial breast irradiation takes less time than external beam radiation, it is called accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI).
In addition to preserving healthy cells, another benefit of APBI is that it is non-invasive. This means that no incisions or catheters are needed for treatment. Also, side effects from APBI are mild. Common side effects may include a local radiation skin reaction, thickening (fibrosis) of the nearby breast tissue, and fatigue.
Recently, Illinois CyberKnife, in cooperation with the department of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital, started to evaluate accelerated partial breast irradiation delivered with the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System in early stage breast cancer in five treatments through a registry study.
For the study, 200 patients with Stage 0 or Stage I breast cancer, will be enrolled over the next two years. They will be given radiosurgery to the region of their tumor bed within 12 weeks of breast conserving surgery. The purpose of the study is to assess the results and side effects of this treatment.
If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with breast cancer and would like information about the partial breast irradiation study, or to learn more about the breast cancer treatment options available to you, please contact Illinois CyberKnife today.