Alexis Vanden Bos is feeling good after radiation
treatment for breast cancer. It’s her second time battling the disease, in 2004; she had
a mastectomy, followed by chemotherapy and whole breast irradiation. “It just burned, burned, burned, and we
actually didn’t get all the way through, we had to stop because the burn was so bad.” This time, Alexis had a smaller tumor, which
made partial breast irradiation an option after a lumpectomy.
She chose radiotherapy with cyber-knife. (:08) “We do the same radiation, but it’s new
delivery option, it delivers a very precise radiation field in a shorter period of time
than traditional radiation.” Until now, partial breast irradiation has
been limited to external beam radiation or, brachy-therapy, a technique using either a
balloon, or needles and catheters to deliver localized radiation. (:09) In 2009, Sandra Vermeulen, a radiation oncologist,
completed a small pilot study using cyber- knife to treat breast cancer patients. “ We found very little in the way of side
effects, there was some fatigue, there were no skin burns, there was very little swelling,
there was no injury to the chest wall or the lung, or the underlying heart. Here’s how it works.
Breast surgeons place gold markers in the area where the tumor is taken out.
Cyber knife delivers radiation within those small margins. “It can track motion, so you can focus it
on an area of interest and it will treat that within one or two millimeters of accuracy.” “Doing the cyber knife was fantastic, I
can’t even describe how easy it was. Yeah, it took a little effort, yeah, I had
a little swelling but it is amazing the difference, It was as though I almost didn’t have radiation.” “It is not an option for every single woman,
it is not appropriate for every single woman who is going to have radiation therapy, but
for carefully selected patients, it’s going to be a great option.