Monday, February 19, 2007
Medical Reports: Reducing Radiation
For many cancer patients, radiation can be the worst part of treatment. The side effects are sometimes painful and the treatments take weeks. But, as 7's Diana Diaz shows us, there's a new procedure that's reducing radiation from weeks to days.
WSVN -- Two women, one day healthy the next facing the fight for their lives.
Angela D'Auria: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001."
MaryLou Culligan: "When you hear it for the very first time, I felt like the bottom fell out."
While they shared the same diagnosis, their treatments were much different.
Angela D'Auria: "I was very fatigued and tired all the time."
When Angela D'Auria got breast cancer six years ago, her only options were a lumpectomy, followed by chemotherapy and then six weeks of grueling radiation.
Angela D'Auria: "It's painful. It's something that's burning your skin."
Radiation not only took a toll on her body, all the time spent at treatments also took a toll on her personal life.
Angela D'Auria: "Probably because of that I lost my job."
Diana Diaz: "But early-stage breast cancer patients now have another option that can save their body and their time. A new treatment is reducing radiation from six weeks to just five days."
Dr. Ana Botero: "The main goal of the radiation is to prevent that the tumor doesn't come back."
The latest technique Dr. Ana Botero uses targets radiation on the actual tumor instead of the whole breast.
A catheter is implanted into the tumor site and then these tubes are attached, delivering radiation twice a day.
Dr. Botero: "We deliver the radiation from the inside."
Patients can do everything they did before -- and, after five days, the catheter is simply removed.
MaryLou Culligan: "With the five days, it made it a lot more tolerable. Like it didn't seem so invasive."
Not only does it take less time, there aren't as many side effects.
Dr. Alejandra Perez: "The burning of the skin is less, and the fatigue that patients complain about ... you don't see that."
Something Mary Lou was grateful for -- she didn't have to give up any of the things she loves, like her weekly dancing.
Mary Lou: "I actually went dancing and didn't have a problem with it. I didn't miss a Wednesday in the whole thing."
She is now cancer free and her dance card is filled with all the people she cares about.
MaryLou: "It really went so quickly that I can't believe that it's already behind me."
Memorial Cancer Institute in Hollywood is also taking part of a huge nationwide clinical trial, comparing standard radiation with the partial breast therapy.
They hope to be able to offer it to more patients in the future.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Ana Botero
Memorial Cancer Institute