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Accuboost: Beating Breast Cancer

New radiation treatment helps treat breast cancer without invasive techniques.
A new radiation treatment system is helping women battle breast cancer.

It's called the AccuBoost system.

"We've been using it the past three or four years to deliver the boost portion of the whole breast treatment," says Dr. Jaroslaw Hepel of Rhode Island Hospital.

Now it's being used in a new way.

Rhode Island Hospital is testing the system to treat only the portion of the breast where the cancer is found, following the removal of the tumor.

Partial breast cancer radiation is not new, but Hepel says most of the techniques are invasive.

"We either have to put multiple needles into the breast or a catheter into the lumpectomy cavity and that needs to remain in place for the whole course of treatment which is about a week," he explains.

Hepel said for the patient, it can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and pose a risk of infection.

"What's nice about the AccuBoost system is that it's not invasive. There's nothing that's placed inside the breast, but we're able to achieve the same level of precision as these invasive approaches," he says.

It starts with mammography-like imaging.

"With this approach, we actually immobilize the breast by compressing it gently and image the breast for each and every treatment. That's how we're able to see the lumpectomy cavity and target it very precisely for each treatment," Hepel says.

The radiation is delivered through catheter-like wires to a specific spot.

The expectation is that women will have fewer side effects and better cosmetic outcomes.

The hope is that the non-invasive treatment will become the standard of care.

"Patients who are eligible for the study are women over the age of 50 who have early stage breast cancer and who've undergone a wide, local excision of their tumor," Hepel says.

Rhode Island Hospital is the only facility in New England enrolling in the study.

There are three other sites, two in New York and one in Florida.

Hepel said the hospital hopes to enroll 40 patients.

So far, 12 have taken part.
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