Breast Cancer Continues to Threaten Women.
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among women in the US, second only to skin cancer. Statistics show that 1 out of 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. The cure rate for breast cancer is exceptionally high, especially when detected early, reaching up to 95% success rate; however, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death among women.
Why is this the case in today’s advanced technological world? Breast cancer is actually a complicated type of cancer – no two patients are the same, so every woman needs to be evaluated and treated individually. Several types of breast cancer can behave aggressively– spreading quickly to lymph nodes and from there throughout the body. Because of this there is a high recurrence rate, even if the entire breast is removed.
What are the Various Options for Treating Breast Cancer?
The most common treatment options provided by doctors and oncologists are surgery or chemotherapy, two quite traditional and invasive forms of treatment.
Surgery, which is a localized approach, usually refers to either a lumpectomy, which removes just the tumor area or a mastectomy, which removes the entire breast.
Chemotherapy is a broad approach, whereby chemicals treat the entire body in hopes of killing the cancer, but often with collateral damage, as is seen through the various and severe side effects.
However, there is a third approach which doctors often overlook – Radiation Therapy – a localized treatment option where high energy x-rays are directed to a certain part of the body. Radiation therapy is a completely safe and less invasive option that actually has far better rates at minimizing recurrence of cancer and has tremendous success with early-detected breast cancer patients. In this treatment form, women are able to keep their breasts, retain the sensation and minimize the chances of their cancer coming back.
What is the Preferred Approach for Treating Breast Cancer at ICI?
For early cancer, we favor radiation treatment via the prone position, with the patient lying face down using specialized treatment beds, separating the breasts from other body parts and critical organs and eliminating damage to the lungs or heart.
Brachytherapy is another radiation modality that allows for part of the breast to be treated with radiation, as opposed to the entire breast.
Both treatments have identical success rates when compared with other surgical treatments.
In conclusion, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, do your homework. We recommend consulting with a breast surgeon, a medical oncologist, and a radiation oncologist before starting any treatment. A one-size-fits-all approach does not exist and all patients should be aware of ALL of their options.
What are the Benefits of Radiation Compared to Mastectomy?
- Faster and less invasive – while surgery and chemotherapy options require several uncomfortable procedures with a high risk of complications taking between 6-12 months, radiation therapy treatment averages only four to six weeks, each session being only 15 minutes.
- No reconstructive surgery – mastectomies often come with the need for multiple surgeries; meaning a lengthy process and extended recovery times that can take up to one year
- Excellent cosmetic results – women can keep their breasts and maintain sensation.
- Minimal recovery times – radiation therapy is performed on an outpatient basis without the need of anesthesia or hospital stay.
- High success rates and lower recurrence rates – up to 95% success rates when detected early.
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