Surgical Oncology News

This section features a sampling of news related to surgical oncology from the popular press, from press releases received, or SSO news directly pertinent to SSO members.

Radioactive Implants May Increase Complications after Breast Cancer Surgery

Author: Linda Searing, The Washington Post
May 21, 2012

Brachytherapy: For breast cancer, radioactive implants affect complications but not survival

THE QUESTION: The standard way to administer radiation after breast cancer surgery is with an external beam of high-energy X-rays. An increasingly popular newer method is brachytherapy, which involves implanting radioactive seeds or wires in the body. How do the results compare?

This study analyzed data on 92,735 older women (average age, 75) who had a lumpectomy to remove the cancerous tumor and then were given brachytherapy or external radiation treatment to destroy any remaining microscopic cancer cells. In the next year, postoperative complications, including infections and bleeding problems, were reported in 28 percent of the women who had brachytherapy and 17 percent of those given external radiation. Chances of having a mastectomy within five years of the original surgery were twice as great with brachytherapy treatment (4 percent vs. 2 percent for external radiation), and women whose cancer had involved lymph nodes were five times as likely to have a mastectomy if they had brachytherapy rather than external radiation. However, overall survival rates after five years were essentially the same, about 87 percent.

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