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Radioactive 'Seed' Rx Helps Women With Implants Fight Breast Cancer
Date:12/1/2008

In these cases, the implant makes it more difficult to treat the malignancy, experts explain

MONDAY, Dec. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Women who have had their breasts augmented with implants and are later diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer may be treated successfully with a partial-breast radiation treatment known as brachytherapy, according to an Arizona physician and researcher.

"It's such a challenge to take care of these augmented women," said Dr. Robert Kuske Jr., a Scottsdale radiation oncologist and clinical professor of radiation oncology at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Tucson.

Kuske was expected to present the study Monday at the Radiological Society of North America's annual meeting, in Chicago.

In brachytherapy, the physician watches via a computer as tiny radioactive "seeds" are guided into place in the breast through small plastic tubes. Once they are in place, the seeds emit high doses of radiation in short bursts. The treatment takes five days.

As Kuske explained, other therapies such as external beam radiation can be performed on women with augmented breasts who first undergo a lumpectomy. However, beam radiation carries a risk of scar tissue forming around the implant. This complication, called capsular contracture, can be both painful and disfiguring.

So, Kuske offered brachytherapy instead to 69 women who had had their breasts augmented before their cancer diagnosis. These women also did not want to undergo a mastectomy and breast reconstruction, preferring lumpectomy instead. Brachytherapy can be given in higher doses to a small, targeted area of the breast after a lumpectomy to remove the tumor.

None of the 69 patients have had a recurrence of the cancer during a follow-up that ranged from a half a year to 5.5 years, with a median follow-up of 16 months, Kuske said.

Regarding the women's post-treatment appearance, "95 percent had ex
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