A new study reveals that women with early-stage breast cancer in the milk ducts that has not metastasized to healthy surrounding breast tissue (ductal carcinoma in situ [DCIS]) appear to benefit from undergoing breast brachytherapy with a strut-based applicator.

The study was presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, held in Phoenix May 2 to May 4.

Breast brachytherapy is a 5-day therapy that patients receive after undergoing lumpectomy surgery and a form of accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI). According to the researchers, women who underwent strut-based breast brachytherapy had lower rates of breast cancer recurrence, as well as less adverse effects.

Lead author John Einck, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, explained:

"Based on these results and other findings, there is emerging data that APBI provides excellent rates of cancer control and low toxicity in properly selected DCIS patients."

The team examined 265 patients (median age of 62) treated with a SAVI (Strut-Adjusted Volume Implant) device, from 2007 to 2011, at 12 sites across the United States. Participants received a median follow-up time of 20.1 months.

The researchers found that 14% of study participants had narrow skin spacing (5 mm or less) between the surface of the skin and the brachytherapy applicator.

According to the researchers, this highlights that the device is able to provide several women with cancers close to the skin the 5 day treatment. These women would otherwise have to undergo six weeks of whole breast irradiation (WBI).

The team found no fat necrosis or hyperpigmentation after analyzing "Grade 2" (symptomatic) post-treatment events. They found that rates of seroma, breast pain and telangiectasia were low (1.2%).

Kerri Perry, M.D., a Denton, Texas, breast surgeon and co-author on the study said:

"The biggest concern in treating DCIS with APBI is the risk of local recurrence, but this study has shown very low rates of recurrence and compare favorably with the data that is available for whole breast irradiation."

The team obtained data from the ongoing work of the SAVI Collaborative Research Group. The group was set up in order to examine clinical outcomes of APBI treatment with the SAVI device.

The device delivers a form of APBI, which is a shortened radiation therapy course for the treatment of early-stage breast cancer patients after lumpectomy surgery. SAVI's strut-based, open architecture design enables researchers to administer the radiation accounting for each individual patient's specific anatomy.

According to the researchers, that capability increases the amount of women who can benefit from the therapy. Studies have demonstrate that targeted radiation can lower the risk of toxicity and cosmetic side effects.

This treatment is part of breast conservation therapy, which involves surgically removing cancerous breast tissue, as well as tissue surrounding the tumor (lumpectomy) and radiation. This therapy is an alternative to mastectomy, which involves removal of the entire breast and is generally followed by breast reconstruction.

Traditionally, radiation treatment following lumpectomy involved WBI with an external beam. According to the researchers, this 6 week-long treatment can be inconvenient as many women must travel further in order to receive the treatment, which in turn, can add stress on their families, jobs and financial resources.

Written By Grace Rattue