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October 14, 2009
The Breast Cancer Program at Sisters of Charity Hospital, under the direction of Ronald Bauer, MD, was the first in Western New York to perform partial breast radiation following lumpectomy using a new “balloon” device that delivers exact amounts of radiation to the cancer site sparing healthy breast and surrounding tissue.
Partial breast radiation has been available for quite some time, but only during the last five years have new devices been developed to make the procedure more effective and more patient friendly. The Contura ™ Balloon is placed in the breast lumpectomy cavity to apply radiation directly to the site where the cancer had been located.
“The follow-up data shows that partial breast radiation appears to be just as effective as whole breast radiation at reducing the recurrence of breast cancer, without the uncomfortable side effects and treatment limitations,” said Dr. Bauer.
A dedicated breast surgeon with special fellowship training, Dr. Bauer places over 200 Contura balloons annually in breast cancer patients at Sisters Hospital, making it the number one treatment center in the world for this specialized procedure.
With the Contura Balloon, a radioactive seed is placed in the balloon twice a day for five days and the balloon is then removed. Using this treatment option, if the cancer recurs in the same breast, another lumpectomy can be performed.
Prior to the use of partial breast radiation, the whole breast had to be radiated after lumpectomy to reduce the risk of recurrence from 30% to 5%. Whole breast radiation lasts five weeks or more and is associated with skin changes and fatigue. Whole breast radiation also commits the woman to a mastectomy if the cancer recurs in the breast, since the entire breast has already been radiated.