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New Study Suggests Targeted Radiation as Effective, More Convenient for Women With Breast Cancer

OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Among Few in Nation to offer Intrabeam® Therapy

For select women with breast cancer, a one-time, targeted dose of radiation given at the time of surgery to remove a breast tumor is as effective as standard multi-week, post-operative radiation therapy, according to the results of a 10-year, international study. The results, announced last week at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago, and published online in The Lancet, could mean significant changes with regard to how breast cancer is treated.

The Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute is the only medical facility in the Pacific Northwest to offer its breast cancer patients targeted radiation therapy using the Intrabeam® system.

“This study demonstrates that for certain women, a single treatment with Intrabeam® is equivalent to weeks of treatment with standard radiation,” said Carol Marquez, M.D., associate professor of radiation oncology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and member of the Breast Cancer Coordinated Care Team. “This efficient, targeted therapy represents an important change in how radiation is given and will change the impact breast cancer has on many women's lives.”

The TARGIT-A study is an ongoing international breast cancer clinical trial involving more than 2,000 patients treated at 28 cancer centers in nine countries in Europe, Asia and North America. The women were followed for as long as 10 years; each was 45 or older, had invasive ductal breast cancer, and underwent breast-conserving surgery. Half of the women received traditional, whole breast, radiation therapy for several weeks following surgery, and half received a single, 30-minute targeted dose of radiation therapy during surgery. Some of the women received both treatments. Four years after treatment, six of the women who received targeted therapy, and five who received traditional therapy had a recurrence of cancer. The two groups also experienced similar rates of complications and side effects.

“It is incredibly exciting to be the first in the Pacific Northwest to offer this cutting-edge treatment,” said Arpana Naik, M.D., an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the OHSU School of Medicine and the director of the OHSU Breast Cancer Clinic. “This is groundbreaking news for women with early-stage breast cancer and for the doctors who treat them. Intrabeam® not only offers patients a more precise, less-toxic therapy, but it also saves time. Women with early-stage breast cancer can get back to their lives more quickly and doctors have one more tool to help patients heal.”

Targeted radiation therapy with Intrabeam® is not only more convenient for patients, but it also avoids irradiation of the chest cavity and underlying organs, like the heart and lungs. The OHSU Knight Cancer Institute’s Comprehensive Breast Cancer Clinic began offering Intrabeam® treatments to qualifying patients in November 2009. The cost of treatment with Intrabeam® is equivalent to traditional full-breast radiation therapy, and most insurance companies cover the procedure.

 “I am pleased to report these positive outcomes on behalf of the TARGIT group for what we believe is one of the most important studies to be conducted in the field of breast cancer to date,” said Michael Baum, M.D., co-principal investigator of the TARGIT-A multicenter clinical trial in a news release from Carl Zeiss Meditec, the company that makes the Intrabeam® device. “TARGIT treatment has the potential to become the new standard of care in breast cancer.”

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About the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Visit   
With the latest treatments, technologies, hundreds of research studies and approximately 400 clinical trials, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center between Sacramento and Seattle— an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. The honor is shared among the more than 650 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff who work together at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to reduce the impact of cancer.

About OHSU
The Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and Oregon's only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU’s size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. OHSU serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.

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