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Brachytherapy For Breast Cancer Can Be Risky

A new study published in the June 2006 issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics, the official journal of ASTRO, the American Society //for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, says that doctors in New England have found that patients receiving partial radiation for the breast in order to combat breast cancer have the risk of developing a seroma.

A seroma is retention of fluid in the breast, which can complicate matters since it requires aspiration. The study followed 38 women who had the procedure after undergoing lumpectomy surgery to remove the cancer. After the surgery, a balloon brachytherapy method is used to place a balloon in the space occupied by the tumor.

Radiation Oncologists then deliver high doses of radiation locally in order to kill off any remaining cancer cells. In the current study 76.3 percent of them developed seroma in their breast and 68.4 percent of the patients had it for over 6 months.

'Seroma is not infrequent after surgery, but it typically resolves itself within a few weeks. However, with these patients, the seroma didn’t resolve,' said Suzanne B. Evans, M.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and a radiation oncology resident at Tufts-New England Medical Center. 'We look forward to other studies in which the device is placed post-operatively to determine whether this lowers the rate of seroma formation.'


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