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Brachytherapy Toxicity Acceptable in Breast Cancer Patients

Brachytherapy Toxicity Acceptable in Breast Cancer Patients

NEW ORLEANS—Toxicity for low-dose-rate and high-dose-rate accelerated
partial breast irradiation (APBI) (brachytherapy) is comparable to that
observed in women treated with conventional whole breast external beam
radiation therapy after lumpectomy, according to a 10-year study (RTOG 95-17)
presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic
Radiology and Oncology (abstract 146).

"Acute toxicity with wide-volume brachytherapy was acceptable considering
the learning curve that each institution had to go through, and should
improve with newer catheter insertion techniques, including the use of
templates," concluded Robert R. Kuske, Jr., MD, professor of human oncology,
University of Wisconsin, Madison, and lead investigator of the study.

Dr. Kuske is the developer of the Kuske Breast Template (Nucletron
Corporation, Columbia, Maryland), which recently received FDA approval for
use in guiding catheter placement in breast brachytherapy (see photograph
below).

The investigators enrolled a total of 100 women between August 1997 and
March 2000 to receive high-dose-rate brachytherapy (34 Gy in 10 twice-daily
fractions over 5 days) (n = 66) or low-dose-rate implants (45 Gy in 3.5 to 5
days) (n = 33). Patients had invasive nonlobular breast carcinomas of 3 cm or
less with negative surgical margins after lumpec-tomy and axillary dissection
with 0 to 3 positive axillary nodes without extracapsular extensions. One
patient was excluded for having only sentinel node mapping.

Wide-volume brachytherapy involves placing multiple catheters or needles 2
cm around the lumpectomy site to deliver precise doses of radiation "from the
inside out," Dr. Kuske said. Conventional placement of the catheters has been
freehand guided. The Kuske Breast Template holds the breast in place and
provides a navigational aid for image-guided catheter placement. The
catheters remain in place for the 4 to 5 days of twice-daily outpatient
treatment.

In the current study, catheter insertion procedures were left to the
discretion of each individual institution, Dr. Kuske said, and data were not
collected concerning individual freehand and template techniques used to
accomplish volume coverage.

Toxicity Results

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