Thanks to the support of Stella & Dot and their Canadian stylists, the Noreen Fraser Foundation made a grant to the laboratory of Drs. John Mackey and Nadeem Pervez of the University of Alberta, Canada. The pilot project will test the feasibility of a new type of radiation treatment for women with early stage breast cancer.
The current standard of care following the diagnosis of an early stage breast cancer is lumpectomy followed by radiation to the whole breast. Standard radiation treatment requires the patient to receive treatment in a hospital setting 5-7 days a week for up to 12 weeks following surgery. Dr. Pervez is investigating a new therapy that involves the implanting of permanent radioactive seeds in the breast during the initial surgery at the site of tumor removal. The radioactive seeds will release the amount of radiation needed to treat the area thereby allowing women to avoid having to go to the hospital day after day for their treatment. Convenience is not a trivial matter in this instance. Many women who live too far from a medical center to receive radiations on a daily basis as required are opting for a full mastectomy when it wouldn't be called for or are just failing to show up for their radiation treatments.
Furthermore, the new treatment format may also be safer for patients and lead to better cosmetic results. Researchers believe that the new therapy may lead to fewer side effects because the volume of radiation received is less and concentrated to the specific are requiring treatment as opposed to the whole breast. It is believed that the new therapy may lead to better cosmetic results because In many instances, full breast radiation leads to unsightly skin reactions that are painful and cosmetically unpleasant. The procedure, requiring the implant of the seeds while the patient is already under anesthesia will be less painful and certainly much less time consuming than the current standard of care.