Web Producer: Amber Griswold
The Evansville Komen Race for the Cure is a week from Sunday and the money raised goes for a variety of programs and research into breast cancer.
Breast cancer is often treated with radiation, and this race can help provide funds for the improvement of radiation.
With traditional radiation, a beam comes out of the machine and is directed toward the tumor site. Over the years, it has become pretty accurate at hitting its target. One drawback though is the amount of time this therapy takes, anywhere from two to eight weeks.
Mike Miller, M.D. Radiation Oncologist, explained, "We have patients that travel up to an hour, an hour and a half every day for treatment and they usually do well with it, but that can wear on you after a period of time."
Now, some breast cancer patients are getting out of treatment much sooner. What makes it possible, is the mammosite catheter.
With this method, larger doses of radiation are targeting a much smaller amount of breast tissue, the patient can endure the full ten treatments in one week. And the catheter is easily removed right afterward. It's promising, but it's not for everyone. Patients must be over 45 and have a tumor that's smaller than three centimeters. Their lymph nodes must test negative for cancer. And they can't have any cancer cells in the margins around the tumor once it's removed.
The FDA just approved this technology in May of 2002, so not a lot of research is available on its long term effectiveness.
Dr. Miller commented, "It appears to be a very good treatment, however we want more long term data and it will be coming out."
Two major long term studies are now underway.