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    Rhode Island Hospital

    APC Building

    Providence, RI 02903


    . . . . . .

    The Miriam Hospital

    164 Summit Avenue

    Providence, RI 02906


  • Electronic Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer

  • Rhode Island Hospital is the third hospital in the nation to offer the Axxent electronic brachytherapy system, a new treatment for women with early stage breast cancer. The Axxent system uses a miniaturized linear accelerator to deliver a radiation-emitting seed the size of a grain of rice directly to the tumor site in order to help reduce recurrence of the disease.

    Brachytherapy vs. Traditional Radiation

    Most women with early stage breast cancer who have radiation treatment undergo whole breast radiation. This causes some degree of radiation scattering, which can have side effects. Electronic brachytherapy, however, uses a miniaturized x-ray source that is inserted into the tumor site. It can be turned on and off as appropriate to deliver localized, targeted radiation treatment.

    "This new therapy is very different than conventional brachytherapy because instead of a radioactive source, the source of the Axxent system is actually a miniaturized X-ray tube," says David Wazer, MD, chief of radiation oncology at Rhode Island Hospital. "That means that the source is not continually radioactive; it only emits radiation when it's turned on. It gives us a different way to administer radiation therapy."

    Shorter treatment, less radiation

    The new FDA-approved treatment offers a much shorter treatment time - only five days, as opposed to up to seven weeks with other conventional whole breast radiation therapy. It also eliminates the use of radioactive isotopes. The results are less exposure to radiation and less side effects with better outcomes for patients.

    Wazer also notes, "Our goal in the treatment of breast cancer is first to cure the patient and secondarily, give patients the best cosmetic outcome that we can. We've come to appreciate that sometimes, less treatment is better."

    The hospital is currently recruiting women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer to participate in a trial to study the effectiveness of the new treatment method and to provide patient feedback. If you are interested or for more information, please call the Rhode Island Hospital radiation oncology department at 401-444-8311.

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