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M. D. Anderson Radiation Center in Bellaire Adds New Option; Partial-Breast Irradiation Now Available for Some Lumpectomy Patients


The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Radiation Treatment Center in Bellaire has added partial-breast irradiation, a new approach to treating some breast cancer patients who are undergoing lumpectomies, to its complement of radiation therapy services.

For some breast cancer patients who elect to have lumpectomy or breast-sparing surgery, the new radiation technique may be an alternative to the current standard of care which includes removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue followed by four to six weeks of daily external beam radiation.

Partial-breast irradiation, given after lumpectomy, directly treats the area at highest risk of recurrence in the breast while minimizing the dose to the rest of the breast. The new technique reduces the number of radiation treatments dramatically, from four to six weeks of daily standard external beam radiation to five to seven days of twice-daily treatments.

Using MammoSite® technology, partial-breast irradiation involves a surgeon inserting a balloon through a catheter into the lumpectomy cavity and inflating it to fill the small hollowed-out area of the breast. The surgeon may implant the balloon using a surgical incision or less invasively with the guidance of an ultrasound.

The balloon is left in place for several days for radiation treatment planning and up to one week of treatment. When radiation treatment begins, a radioactive seed is inserted into the center of the balloon, left in place for five to 10 minutes - the length of a single radiation treatment - and then removed when the patient leaves the facility. This procedure is repeated with each radiation treatment twice a day, at least six hours apart.

“It is vital that the patient, radiation oncologist and surgeon discuss the option of partial-breast irradiation early on so that each can be in synch with the other and deliver the best possible outcome for each patient,” said Elizabeth Bloom, M.D., associate professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology who leads the team at the M. D. Anderson Radiation Treatment Center in Bellaire. “While this treatment is not for every breast cancer patient, we want to make the service available to those who could most benefit.”

According to Bloom, the goal will be to place patients who receive partial-breast irradiation at M. D. Anderson on a study so that the effectiveness of the technique can be scientifically measured and evaluated. Partial-breast irradiation still is considered “investigational,” but has a strong track record for success and safety, she said.

“If partial-breast irradiation is equal to the standard of care with total breast radiation that yields a 95 percent success rate, we want to prove it with research,” said Bloom. “This technique certainly looks promising but we want to have the long-term data to back up that promise.”

The Bellaire satellite is the only M. D. Anderson facility in Houston to offer partial-breast radiation though M. D. Anderson’s radiation satellite center at the New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque also offers the option. The Bellaire location is open to any breast cancer patient who is clinically eligible, including M. D. Anderson patients or patients in the care of a community hospital, surgeon or oncologist.

The M. D. Anderson Cancer Center Radiation Treatment Center in Bellaire, located at 6602 Mapleridge St., opened in 2000 as M. D. Anderson’s first community satellite facility. Today, there are radiation treatment centers in Katy, Richmond, The Woodlands and Albuquerque. Each location has its own linear accelerator, CT scanner for simulations and an on-site team that includes a radiation oncologist, therapists, dosimetrists, physicists and administrative staff.

In addition, the M. D. Anderson Clinical Care Center in the Bay Area on the campus of CHRISTUS St. John Hospital is the first comprehensive clinical care center beyond M. D. Anderson’s main campus in the Texas Medical Center. The center offers radiation treatment and medical oncology services as well as chemotherapy administration, a laboratory for blood work and a blood donor room.


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