Radiation Therapy (RT) is a critical component of cancer treatment; however tens of thousands of breast cancer patients avoid or do not comply with their RT regimen. Electronic Brachytherapy, a new approach to radiation that is driving access to cancer care, is available for the treatment of breast and endometrial cancers, and is being investigated for intraoperative applications.
“Thousands of women annually still choose to have a mastectomy instead of pursuing breast conserving therapies”
-Darius Francescatti, Rush University Medical Center in Chicago
Radiation Therapy (RT) is a critical component of cancer treatment, proven to reduce local recurrences and improve long-term survival. It is used annually to treat more than 1 million cancer patients. Unfortunately, RT can also affect normal cells and cause side effects. This makes balancing the destruction of cancer cells and preserving healthy tissue critical to effective treatment.
As we’ve seen improvements in the early detection of cancer, radiation therapy options have also improved for both external beam radiation and accelerated partial breast brachytherapy. The advantage of traditional brachytherapy as well as electronic brachytherapy is that radiation is applied directly to the tumor site, potentially reducing the dose to healthy heart and lung tissue that can result when radiation is delivered externally.
Despite these advances, we know that thousands of women annually still choose to have a mastectomy instead of pursuing breast conserving therapies and thousands more patients do not comply with their radiation treatment. Much of this is based on fear, time, distance, or difficulty accessing radiation therapy centers.
Electronic Brachytherapy (eBx) brings together the best of external beam and traditional brachytherapy. This award-winning oncologic treatment platform is available for the treatment of early stage breast cancer and endometrial cancer and is being investigated for intraoperative applications. FDA-cleared for use where radiation therapy is indicated, the Axxent ® Electronic Brachytherapy Platform™ uses a miniaturized electronic X-ray source to deliver localized non-isotopic radiation directly to cancer sites with minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
eBx can offer patients and clinicians a number of distinct benefits. The delivery of therapy without the use of a radioactive isotope is a significant benefit, because Electronic Brachytherapy can be used in virtually any clinical setting under the supervision of a radiation oncologist. By eliminating the need to deliver treatment in heavily shielded vaults, eBx is designed to help radiation oncologists improve access to critical cancer care and make it available to patients across geographic and socioeconomic levels.
Delivering therapy more easily and conveniently, Electronic Brachytherapy gives physicians and patients a safer and more accessible radiotherapeutic platform. For example, in the study “ A dosimetric comparison of MammoSite high-dose-rate brachytherapy and Xoft Axxent electronic brachytherapy,” researchers found comparable treatment dose volume; however, there is a significantly decreased dose to adjacent healthy tissues with eBx.
Designed to deliver a treatment equivalent to isotope-based brachytherapy, eBx supports the growing utilization of Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI), reducing treatment time to five days. Building on excellent APBI clinical results, Electronic Brachytherapy offers patients a better treatment experience i.e. isolation during treatment; reducing anxiety by enabling clinicians and staff to remain in the room during treatment – which is not possible with other forms of radiation treatment.
Unlike traditional brachytherapy sources, the Electronic Brachytherapy X-ray source can be turned on and off at will. Its unique properties enable it to be delivered in many clinical settings rather than in traditional heavily-shielded environments. For hospitals that already have shielded vaults, this provides the ability to maximize utilization of vaults for procedures that can only be performed in shielded rooms. By enabling radiation oncology centers to shift whole breast RT procedures and isotopic APBI cases, this provides a number of benefits, including the ability to free up valuable vault space to enable sites to run multiple procedures in parallel.
Darius Francescatti , MD, JD, FACS is an Assistant Professor of Surgery at Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL.