St. Mary's Cancer Center will soon offer another way to treat breast cancer that drastically cuts treatment time for patients.
It is called Mammosite. It was developed seven years ago, and has been offered on an experimental basis. The procedure offers a different way to administer radiation on a breast cancer patient after a tumor is removed from the breast. Surgeons and radiation oncologists work together and place a balloon where the tumor once was.
"The tumor is taken out of the breast and at the time it's taken out of the breast, we place a little apparatus that has a balloon on the end and that is designed so that a radioactive source can be placed inside the balloon," said Dr. Gayle Miller, a Radiation Oncologist at St. Mary's Cancer Center.
Typical radiation treatments last six to seven weeks, but Mammosite cuts that treatment time down to just five days. Medical officials say radiation treatment is a crucial part of therapy after a lumpectomy is performed, but nearly 25 percent of breast cancer patients don't get it because its so time consuming.
Breast cancer survivor, Deb Kane, knows first hand how important time is when you're going through treatment. "You get through chemo and then you go through radiation. And it's consumed your life for so long – you just want it to be over," Kane said.
With Grand Junction being the largest city on the Western Slope, and Denver about four hours away; the new therapy will be a benefit to the large demographic that St. Mary's hospital serves.
Dr. Miller said, "We have patients who come from Dinosaur and Rangely and people who come from Nucla, it is a big strain on these patients to come and get their treatments."
St. Mary's should be getting the Mammosite equipment sometime this month. After they perform some tests, they will start treating qualified patients in March.