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The Tidelands Health Newsroom

Published on June 01, 2006

Georgetown Hospital System to participate in landmark study of radiation following breast cancer

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Georgetown Hospital System and Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center today announced that they are among the first cancer centers in the state to participate in a landmark 3,000 patients National Cancer Institute breast cancer study comparing the benefits of partial breast irradiation to whole breast radiation in the treatment of early stage breast cancer. Radiation therapy is commonly used to destroy cancer cells that remain in the breast, chest wall, or underarm area after surgery for breast cancer. Partial breast irradiation (PBI) is the practice of delivering radiation only to the tissue immediately surrounding the removed tumor, where cancer is most likely to recur, limiting radiation exposure to healthy tissue and enabling treatment to be completed in five days. Georgetown Hospital System has been using MammoSite®, the most widely used form of PBI and a treatment modality used in the post-market study, since February of 2002.

Dr. Craig Brackett, a breast surgeon affiliated with Coastal Carolina Breast Center, and director of Georgetown Hospital System’s breast cancer program, is enthusiastic about this treatment option. “This technique is based on clinical data where breast cancers might recur in a preserved breast. It allows our radiation oncologist to focus therapy at this specific site in a shorter period of time,” Dr. Brackett said. A multidisciplinary team approach involving surgeons, pathologists and radiation oncologists is important in the overall treatment process, he added. Dr. Brackett, who has been implanting MammoSite®, catheters in Georgetown County for more than 4 years, has approximately 30 patients in the American Society of Breast Surgeons Registry trial.

“We are always looking to provide our patients with treatment choices that will be minimally-invasive and help them get back to their lives faster, and we have seem a growth in interest in partial breast irradiation in recent years, “ said Dr. Eric G. Aguero, radiation oncologist at Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center and assistant professor at MUSC,” We believe that partial breast irradiation provides a safe and effective option for women undergoing radiation therapy following breast surgery and published research confirms this. Continued clinical research is important to determine patients most appropriate for newer therapies so patients and physicians can make the best possible decisions regarding their treatment.”

The National Cancer Institute (NCI)’s clinical trials cooperative groups the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project (NSABP) and the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), issued a protocol (B-39) in February 2005 for the largest study of partial breast irradiation to date. The NCI study will expand on existing positive study results comparing PBI to whole-breast radiation therapy. A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2003) found that, over the course of five years, PBI produces comparable results to whole-breast radiation therapy in preventing recurrence in women with early-stage breast cancer who are treated with breast-conserving therapy. Additionally, the initiation of the NCI study will, for the first time, broaden the criteria of patients considered for PBI to include younger women.

Patients interested in more information about the study can contact Francis B. Ford Cancer Treatment Center at (843) 545-5600.

About MammoSite

MammoSite®, is an FDA-cleared balloon catheter that is placed in the capacity created by a lumpectomy. After implantation, radiation is delivered to the tissue surrounding the original tumor from a source placed inside the balloon. With MammoSite®, treatment is completed in five days. Thousands of women have been treated with MammoSite® at hundreds of centers across the country. Published study results have found the treatment to be an effective method to deliver radiation to appropriately selected patients. The first three-year data presented at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology meeting in October 2004 found no patients experienced local recurrence after treatment with MammoSite®.


Tidelands Health is the region’s largest health care provider and MUSC Health affiliate, serving the Carolinas at four hospitals and more than 70 outpatient locations. More than 2,500 employee, physician and volunteer partners work side by side with our communities to transform the health of our region – promoting wellness, preventing illness, encouraging recovery and restoring health.