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Balt Sun: New Machine May Reduce Surgery for Some Breast Cancer Patients
January 8, 2018
Doctors at the University of Maryland have developed a new form of radiation treatment that may reduce or eliminate the need for surgery to remove tumors in patients with early-stage breast cancer.
The treatment, delivered by a machine called the GammaPod unveiled Monday at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, could alleviate some of the many worries of those diagnosed with the disease.
The GammaPod, approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in December, delivers strong doses of radiation more precisely to tumors. Doctors said it will not only reduce the number of radiation treatments a patient may need but will zap the cancer so thoroughly that there may be nothing left for surgeons to tackle.
“We believe this novel radiotherapy system has the potential to change the paradigm for treating early-stage tumors, negating the need for surgery in some patients,” said Dr. William F. Regine, chair and professor of radiation oncology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a co-inventor of the GammaPod with Cedric Yu, a clinical professor of radiation oncology at the university.
The effort, which began about a decade ago with a $3.5 million federal grant, reflects a general move toward reducing the amount of treatment for those diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, who make up the bulk of patients. They tend to have good outcomes but have to endure a lot of treatment because doctors don’t know who will experience a recurrence of the disease.
Typically, early-stage cancer, which involves one dominant tumor that hasn’t spread, has been treated with surgery, then 16 or more rounds of radiation around the cancer site, plus chemotherapy to rid the body of any wayward cancer cells.
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