Swedish Cancer Institute First in Northwest to Offer New Therapy for Early Stage Breast Cancer

Swedish Cancer Institute First in Northwest to Offer New Therapy for Early Stage Breast Cancer

SEATTLE, Sept. 7, 2007 – The Swedish Cancer Institute announced today that it has treated its first early stage breast-cancer patient with the Axxent® Electronic Brachytherapy System, which uses a miniaturized X-ray source to deliver localized, targeted radiation treatment in virtually any clinical setting under the supervision of a radiation oncologist.

Although this new technology was approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) in January 2006 for the treatment of early stage breast cancer, the Swedish Cancer Institute is now one of nine centers in the country – and the only one in the Pacific Northwest – to begin making it available through a post-market clinical study.

“The technology is designed to help reduce recurrence of the disease by delivering therapy directly to cancer sites with minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue,” said Swedish Cancer Institute radiation oncologist Vivek Mehta, M.D. “As one of just a handful of sites that were involved in helping develop this method of delivering electronic, X-ray-based radiation therapy for the treatment of early stage breast cancer, we’re excited to now be able to offer women in the Northwest access to this new treatment option.”

A key component that sets the Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System apart from radiation therapy options that involve radioactive isotopes, is that the X-ray source can be turned on and off at will, giving radiation oncologists the flexibility to deliver treatments in virtually any clinical setting rather than in heavily shielded environments. As a result, the on-demand element is expected to improve women’s access to this breast cancer treatment option.

Used to treat more than 1 million cancer patients a year, radiation therapy is administered after breast-sparing surgery to hopefully kill stray cancer cells that might remain in the breast and is proven to reduce the rate of local recurrences and improve long-term survival.

Data from several randomized, controlled clinical studies has demonstrated that radiation therapy is an essential component of treatment for breast cancer when the patient wishes to conserve her breast with lumpectomy surgery as opposed to undergoing a full mastectomy. However, more recent studies have shown that many patients opt out of receiving breast-sparing surgery with radiation therapy due to time, distance, or difficulty accessing radiation-therapy centers.

Use of the Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System provides the potential to reduce the time required for radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer from seven weeks (for external-beam radiation therapy) down to five days. As a result, over time tens of thousands of patients will likely have greater access to therapy that is delivered more easily and conveniently. This may accelerate patient choice of breast-sparing lumpectomy surgery with adjuvant radiation therapy over the alternative of a full mastectomy.

“The Swedish Cancer Institute has incorporated electronic brachytherapy into our breast cancer therapy arsenal because we strongly believe this technology represents a leap forward in cancer treatment,” added Dr. Mehta. “However, as important as the clinical benefits are, the true breakthrough may relate to improved access to a critical therapy that is delivered more easily and conveniently. We hope this encourages women who may have opted for mastectomy or lumpectomy without radiation therapy to explore breast conserving treatment options with their breast surgeon and radiation oncologist.”

For more information, call 1-800-SWEDISH (1-800-793-3474) or visit www.xoftinc.com

About the Swedish Cancer Institute

The Swedish Cancer Institute (SCI) opened in 1932 as the first dedicated cancer-care center west of the Mississippi. Now in its 75th year, it is the largest and most comprehensive cancer treatment program in the Pacific Northwest, caring for more people with more types of cancer than any other provider in the region. The Institute has a presence on all three of Swedish’s hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill and Ballard – as well as in East King County via a new medical oncology clinic near Issaquah. A true multidisciplinary facility, the SCI offers a wide range of advanced cancer-treatment options in chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery –
backed by extensive diagnostic capabilities, patient education and support-group services. The SCI’s clinical-research arm encompasses industry-sponsored and cooperative group therapeutic trials, cancer screening and prevention trials, and investigator-initiated trials. Breast-cancer screening and diagnostics are available through the Swedish Breast Care Centers and mobile mammography units. Swedish radiation therapy is also offered at area hospitals including Stevens Hospital (Edmonds); Valley Medical Center (Renton); Highline Community Hospital (Burien) and Northwest Hospital (North Seattle). For more information, visit www.swedish.org

About the Center for Advanced Targeted Radiation Therapies

The Swedish Cancer Institute’s Center for Advanced Targeted Radiation Therapies encompasses the comprehensive and complimentary array of advanced and emerging radiation delivery tools available to patients for both approved therapies and clinical research efforts. They include a variety of technologies, including Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT), Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT), linear accelerator-based stereotactic radio surgery, Calypso® 4D Localization System, Xoft Axxent™ Electronic Brachytherapy System, MammoSite® Radiation Therapy System, the Seattle CyberKnife Center™ at Swedish Medical Center, and Northwest Hospital Gamma Knife Center. SCI is also working toward adding the latest generation of proton beam radiotherapy systems to this arsenal of cancer-fighting tools by December 2010.

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Media Coverage

  • To read the transcript -- and watch the video -- of a related story that KING 5 Television (channel 5; NBC) aired on Sept. 7, 2007, click here.
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