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Breast cancer radiation treatment reduced to a single dose

It’s a scenario that plays out for more than a quarter of a million women every year. A breast cancer diagnosis is followed by radiation treatments lasting as long as six weeks. To address that burden, cancer researchers at UT Southwestern are now testing a treatment method that requires only a single dose. Read story

I can’t imagine a young mother, family, working…probably more are than aren’t and managing breast cancer.

{SUPER: Marilyn Gibson/Breast Cancer Patient}

When they said a minimum of 10 treatments, and I have to drive an hour to get here in heavy traffic, I thought there is no way in the world, I want to do that.

I want to get through it. I want to get over it, and this will be my one big contribution to mankind. I’m doing it. So here I am.

I came to get my yearly mammogram which I have had for decades pretty faithfully ever year and so they called me after the mammogram and said, you need to come back.

I have so many friends that have had serious breast cancer. And so, I thought who would think at 81, but yes.

It was stage 1.

I don’t know of anyone in my family that had cancer.

When I heard about the single dose radiation treatment, I liked that idea. I wanted it to be quick. I wanted it to be most effective. And, of course, they told me it would be a large dose and I thought well, I’m still going for that, rather than repeatedly having radiation in smaller doses.

After the treatment, I felt perfectly normal.

The research is so important so I’m in the right place. There’s no question about that.

{SUPER: Asal Rahimi, M.D./Assistant Professor, Radiation Oncology/Director of Clinical Research}

The fact that she’s participated in a trial like this, It’s a gift that Ms. Gibson is giving to the medical community, but hopefully a gift that she’s also giving back to humanity.

There’s been trials in Europe looking at intraoperative radiation which is essentially a single dose of radiation at the time of surgery where they will bring this specialized form of radiation machine into the operating room and then deliver large dose of radiation.

What we have done with this clinical trial is we are trying to take that concept and make it more accessible to the general radiation-oncology public, and we are using the Cyber Knife which is a robotic radiation machine. It’s a stereotactic body radiation machine and essentially it can treat to a very focal point and so we are doing the same thing, but we’re doing it after surgery…after the lumpectomy is done.

We did have a previous treatment in the Cyber Knife that was a five-treatment trial and we had published that several years back and we still continue to follow those women. Those results have been very favorable. 

When I hear knife, I think uh! Cutting. It’s not. It is not.

It’s more like a laser beam and it went straight to the area where the Stage 1 cancer was removed.

This is just a godsend. I think it’s a wonderful thing and I just hope the study takes off, is finished and becomes routine.