Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute (GHCI) is the only cancer center in Michigan offering AccuBoost, a new, innovative, non-invasive radiation treatment option for early stage breast cancer patients choosing breast conservation therapy (surgical removal of cancerous tissue – commonly known as a lumpectomy).
“Most women with early stage breast cancer want to save their breasts, and now we have a proven technique that allows this to happen,” reports Paul Kocheril, MD, radiation oncologist and medical director of the Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute.
AccuBoost combines the power of breast immobilization and real time image-guidance with non-invasive, radiation shielding applications to achieve safe and excellent outcomes. This technique provides the radiation oncologist with as much control as possible to deliver a well-defined beam of radiation and target the radiation dose accurately and precisely to the site of the lumpectomy – the tissue that is the most likely location of future cancer recurrence.
“In traditional boost techniques, the breast is not immobilized, and often no daily imaging is conducted to ensure localization of the targeted area,” Dr. Kocheril finds. In addition, the AccuBoost technique is “100 percent non-invasive. We don’t insert any type of device or catheter into the breast to deliver treatment.”
According to Dr. Kocheril, MD, numerous published reports in reputable medical journals indicate patients with early stage breast cancer who choose a lumpectomy followed by radiation therapy with AccuBoost have as good of a chance at survival as a patient who opts for a mastectomy.
“It is up to each individual patient which option is right for her. At Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, we discuss the options thoroughly with our patients so they can make an educated decision,” Dr. Kocheril reports.
One patient noted: “The AccuBoost technique was a much more positive treatment than previous treatments I received. I had no pain or discomfort, no burning and no side effects.”
While the patient is seated at a mammography machine, the technologist immobilizes the breast in the machine applying only a small fraction of the pressure of a standard mammogram. Next, an image is taken while the breast is immobilized to determine the precise lumpectomy size, shape and location. These clear mammography images allow the radiation oncologist to deliver radiation to the exact site of the lumpectomy cavity and surrounding tissue.
Next, AccuBoost® applicators are placed on each side of the breast to deliver a focused radiation site. X-ray guidance targets the radiation to the lumpectomy site. The applicators, similar to a flashlight, deliver beams of penetrating radiation to the breast tissue that lies directly in front. By properly imaging the surgical site and positioning the applicators at multiple angles around the breast, the technologist is able to deliver an accumulated therapeutic dose of radiation in the target tissue without over-exposing the skin and intervening tissue and sparing normal skin and tissues. Several fields of radiation are delivered parallel to the chest wall allowing for full intensity to the targeted area while minimizing exposure to healthy tissue as well as the heart and lungs.
- Accurate targeting of radiation: real-time mammographic images allow the radiation oncologist to locate accurately the target area with confidence during every treatment session
- Low toxicity: patients often worry about side effects to healthy tissue. The AccuBoost technique enables the radiation oncologist to minimize radiation to the heart and lungs and substantially reduce the dose to the skin.
- Excellent cosmetic results: the look and feel of the breast is preserved.
Benefits of AccuBoost
- The procedure is non-invasive. No devices are implanted in the breast.
- It is a simple outpatient procedure.
- It is extremely accurate. Accurate dose targeting is due to daily real-time imaging.
- It is far less toxic than other techniques.
- It provides better cosmetic results.
- Healthy tissue is spared. Immobilization of the breast combined with daily imaging and multiple radiation beams being delivered from shielded applicators provides excellent visibility and confidence in targeting. Rather than delivering radiation directly to the chest wall (standard procedure for traditional radiation therapy), the technologist delivers the radiation beam parallel to the chest wall. When this treatment approach is combined with an immobilized breast and multiple radiation fields, the dose to neighboring organs like the heart, lungs, skin and chest wall is greatly reduced.
- The radiation field precisely matches the target size, shape and location.
- It is comfortable and virtually pain-free.
- The patient has a flexible treatment schedule to fit her life activities.
Two treatment options for patients
In breast conservation therapy, patients have two primary radiation treatment options, Dr. Kocheril points out. They are whole breast irradiation or accelerated partial breast irradiation. Both approaches have shown excellent cosmetic results. AccuBoost can be used for either form of treatment.
Whole breast irradiation (following a lumpectomy) includes daily sessions of radiation therapy to the whole breast for four to six weeks, and a radiation “boost” to the tissue surrounding the site of the cancer, which has proven effective in preventing cancer recurrence. “This approach has been considered the gold standard treatment for decades,” Dr. Kocheril notes. Patients can expect each treatment – from arrival to departure – to take about 30 minutes.
Accelerated partial breast irradiation is a newer non-invasive technique that treats only the tissue immediately around the site of the original cancer. This procedure can be completed in a shorter time frame – approximately five to 10 days (twice a day for five days or once a day for 10 days) – and more easily fits into the lifestyle of active women, Dr. Kocheril finds. “Patients should plan on being at our center for about one hour. Treatment only takes a portion of that time,” he points out.
“Patient comfort, safety and convenience is extremely important,” the radiation oncologist adds. “We take many steps to make sure every patient is as comfortable as possible during treatment.”
To learn more about AccuBoost, offered only at Genesys Hurley Cancer Institute, call the center at 810.762.8490.
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