Clinical trial of 5 day treatment for earliest form of breast cancer

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Massey Cancer Center have begun a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of an established balloon catheter radiation delivery device on the earliest form of breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS occurs when the cells lining the milk ducts become cancerous but have not yet invaded the surrounding breast tissue. 

VCU is one of nine sites in the country participating in the clinical trial.

Traditional treatment for DCIS includes a lumpectomy – surgery to remove the tumor – followed by six to seven weeks of whole-breast, external beam radiation or a mastectomy. However, because of the desire to avoid a possible mastectomy and the time, travel and lifestyle demands associated with 6-7 weeks of external beam radiation, a large number of women with DCIS forego radiation treatment.

For the last 2 years, a balloon catheter device for delivering radiation called MammoSite, has been FDA approved for delivering partial breast irradiation. Once a tumor is removed, the balloon is placed in the cavity and inflated. Radiation is then pushed into the balloon to treat the surrounding tissue.

The device enables physicians to deliver an entire course of radiation from inside the breast over a five-day period while minimizing the exposure of healthy tissue. The balloon catheter technique has become the most widely utilized form of partial breast irradiation in the world.

“The goal of this study is to gain additional information that confirms the benefits of the balloon catheter technique for DCIS patients as a treatment modality that helps stop the progression of breast cancer at an early stage, while enabling patients to complete their treatment more quickly,“ said Douglas Arthur, M.D., a radiation oncologist at the Massey Cancer Center and the lead investigator for the study at VCU. Arthur has been studying partial breast irradiation techniques for more than 10 years.

In addition to the VCU Medical Center, the following centers also are participating in the multi-center study: Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia; M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston; Swedish Medical Center, Seattle; USC Norris Cancer Center, Los Angeles; Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, NY; William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, Mich.; Arizona Oncology, Phoenix; and Mt. Sinai Comprehensive Cancer Ctr., Miami Beach, Fla.

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