Intrabeam: New treatment helps patients get back on their feet

3:57 PM, Oct 6, 2011   |    comments
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Dr. Eleanor Harris shows Jennie Wolski the x-ray device used for INTRABEAM therapy.

INTRABEAM is a single dose of radiation that's given to a patient right after surgery.

85-year-old Jennie Wolski was the first person to receive INTRABEAM therapy at Moffitt Cancer Center after she was diagnosed last fall with stage one breast cancer.

Wolski says, "They told me even doing a 5-day, twice a day (treatment) that I would be exhausted, and very, very tired."

This retired school teacher likes to play bridge and keep her mind sharp. Instead of a traditional radiation treatment, Dr. Eleanor Harris suggested INTRABEAM.

"It is a low energy x-ray. Usually when we give radiation therapy, we use a high energy x-ray, which means it's a much larger machine to produce the x-ray and it requires shielding, because the x-rays could go through the wall. With a low energy x-ray, it doesn't need to be shielded and it can be taken to any place, including into the operating room."

Following Jennie's lumpectomy, her skin was moved and the INTRABEAM positioned in the area where the tumor once was... avoiding her chest organs and healthy tissues.

"When I awakened in recovery, I sat up. The nurse asked me 'How are you feeling?' I feel great. In fact, I'm ready for a good game of bridge, and I'm famished."

Jennie did not have any side effects and was even washing laundry and shopping in the days following the partial breast radiation.

"I think it is a wonderful treatment for selected women. I do want to make sure people understand it is not for everyone."

Only candidates who are postmenopausal age, have an early stage of cancer and a small tumor that can be removed can receive the single dose radiation, and it's not a guarantee.

"We don't always know at the time of surgery if the lymph node is positive or not. What we do in that situation is obviously we advise the patients up front that there's a small chance that if their node comes back positive, that their interoperative therapy alone will not be sufficient. Treatment and they will need to have whole breast radiation to follow."

Jennie considers the treatment a success.







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