With no family history of breast cancer, Rhonda was taken by surprise when she was diagnosed in November 2009. Because her cancer was found at an early stage, Rhonda was able to take advantage of a new treatment option – MammoSiteTM -- now available at the James E. Cary Cancer Center.
"I was given the option of the traditional six-week course of therapy or the shorter treatment schedule with MammositeTM," Rhonda explained. "I elected to do MammoSiteTM because it only took a few days."
MammoSiteTM is a high-dose radiation therapy that can be completed over five days, rather than the typical six weeks for traditional radiation treatment. The surgeon implants a special balloon and catheter into the breast tissue and radiation is delivered directly to the lumpectomy site, reducing skin irritation and treatment time. Cosmetic results are ranked as excellent with the MammoSiteTM treatment approach.
"This was such a whirlwind thing," Rhonda explained. "I went from diagnosis to finishing treatment in only four weeks. I was scared at first, not knowing what to expect, but everyone at the James E. Cary Cancer Center answered my questions – sometimes more than once!"
When a mass showed up on Rhonda's annual mammogram, another was done to verify the findings. That was followed in quick order by a biopsy and a lumpectomy. Rhonda's surgeon, Patricia Hirner, M.D., of the Hannibal Clinic, was able to place the special treatment catheter soon afterwards.
Rhonda received her diagnosis during the rush of the holiday season. "Everyone at the James E. Cary Cancer Center was so accommodating. The staff even came in over a weekend just so I could be done with treatment before Christmas. Dr. Bean, Stephen Rose and Lisa Gillespie came from home on their normal day off so that I could have a treatment on Saturday in order to finish as soon as possible."
Results from a four year clinical study completed by the American Society of Breast Surgeons indicate that 95% of women treated had good to excellent cosmetic results and that the local recurrence rate of cancer is below 3%. Other surveys indicate that 98% of women who receive MammoSite would recommend that treatment to family and friends. Breast-conserving therapy has the same survival outcomes as mastectomy.
"I didn't want to do the whole breast radiation," explained Rhonda. "MammoSiteTM is less invasive plus it's only five days of treatment."
Rhonda was pleased that she was able to undergo her treatments so close to home. "It never crossed my mind to have treatment somewhere else. I felt very comfortable at the James E. Cary Cancer Center. The staff was professional yet warm. I felt like I knew everyone here. Everything’s up-to-date and the staff is on top of it!"
With the convenience of treatments close to home, Rhonda was able to continue planning for the holiday season as well as babysitting her 18-month-old granddaughter.
"I was able to do everything I wanted to do and stayed involved in my normal activities," she said.
MammoSiteTM is covered by Medicare as well as by a majority of private insurers. Doctors will carefully evaluate the patient to determine if they are a candidate for MammoSiteTM 5-day Targeted Radiation Therapy.
For more information on MammoSiteTM treatments at the James E. Cary Cancer Center, call 573-406-5800.