EXETER, N.H. -- A new treatment is available for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer that doctors say is safe, effective and quick.Link: Exeter HospitalPatient Margaret Sklarski said her diagnosis of breast cancer hit her hard."Everything was frightening," she said.But her doctors at Exeter Hospital told her of a new radiation therapy that can be done in a fraction of the time of normal therapy -- five days, as opposed to seven weeks."They will start with a regimen of five days as opposed to six to seven weeks," said Dr. Gary Proulx, director of radiation oncology. "It's twice a day with a minimum of six hours in between. It works out much better for women who have a difficult time coming in for six to seven weeks."To qualify for electronic brachytherapy, patients must meet specific criteria."Only patients who have localized disease within the surgical site, so you trust it is just that site," Proulx said. "You can be confident treating just that site."Once the patient gets the green light, doctors surgically remove the cancer and then prepare the site for radiation. CAT scan images ensure they get the precise location."They insert a catheter and the radiation goes into the catheter," Sklarski said. "It keeps it in a specific area so it doesn't do any damage to a bigger area."Low-dose radiation targets just the cancer. The dose is so low that it's safe for visitors to be present."With this type of radiation, they can stay in the room with you so you're not in here by yourself," Sklarski said.Exeter Hospital said it is the only hospital in the state to currently offer the treatment."We go beyond science," said Dr. Diane Palladino. "We look at the whole patient, what's going on with them, and the hospital is committed to a multidimensional approach.""This helps you get back to your life and move on," Sklarski said. "I'm a survivor, and if this is what will get me there, that's what I want."Sklarski's entire treatment, from surgery to radiation, took just more than six weeks. She said she's feeling great and has suffered no side effects. Tell Us More: E-mail WMUR your tips and story ideas.Copyright 2010 by WMUR. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Good news for some cancer patients