MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy, cleared by the FDA in 2002, is making treatment easier for many breast cancer patients while achieving the same cosmetic benefits and cancer control rates as traditional radiation therapy.

So, why are patients choosing MammoSite? Convenience is the primary reason. With traditional radiation therapy, patients typically undergo radiation treatment five days a week over a period of five to seven weeks. With MammoSite, the treatment period last only five days, two times per day – in the morning for insertion of a radiation pellet and in the evening to remove the pellet.

This shorter treatment time is particularly appealing to patients who work and for those who do not reside near the treatment facility. I’ve had patients who have opted for a mastectomy (total breast removal) rather than traditional therapy because of the inconvenience of traveling long distances five days a week for several weeks. I prefer to conserve the breast whenever possible, so I offer the option of MammoSite whenever viable.

With MammoSite, out-of-town patients and their families have the option of staying at the Fellowship Center during the course of treatment. The Fellowship Center, funded by the Fort Sanders Foundation and Covenant Health, offers 18 fully furnished apartments free of charge for out-of-town patients undergoing treatment at Thompson Cancer Survival Center or Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

While convenience is a big benefit for MammoSite, it isn’t the only benefit to the procedure. With MammoSite, a radiation pellet is inserted into a balloon catheter located directly at the site of the lumpectomy, so there is less scatter radiation and generally less damage to the skin. Newer balloon catheters offer radiation technologists an even greater ability to direct radiation specifically where it needs to go.

I’ve been doing the MammoSite procedure for more than five years and have used this treatment option for more than 30 patients. I believe it’s the wave of the future and offers a good alternative for patients that qualify.

Currently, MammoSite is only recommended for a certain subset of patients — those age 60 or older who have early-stage breast cancer. Studies are underway to determine long-term results for younger women.

Patients who have had MammoSite therapy are very pleased with the results. In fact, 100 percent of patients in the initial clinical trial said they would recommend MammoSite therapy to a friend or family member, and all said that they would use the therapy again if they had to do it over.

If you’ve been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer and are age 60 or above, consult your physician to see if MammoSite therapy is the right fit for you.