Precision Radiation For Advanced Breast Cancer

Precision Radiation for Advanced Breast Cancer
Once breast cancer metastasizes, it becomes very difficult to treat. The cancer is often resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Even when treatment appears to be successful, the cancer often returns – sometimes even more aggressively. Patients may undergo radiation therapy directed at the new tumors. However, to access the tumor, beams of radiation must pass through healthy tissue. The radiation kills the tumor, but, over the course of treatment, also damages healthy cells.

Some doctors are testing a technique called the Novalis® Shaped Beam Surgery™ (BrainLAB) for women with metastatic breast cancer. The technique uses very narrow beams of precisely targeted radiation to match the size and shape of the tumor. To reduce the risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissue, the beams focus on the tumor from numerous directions.

To plan the treatment, doctors use images from CT scans to gain precise information about the location, depth and dimensions of the tumor. A computer software program analyzes the information and creates a treatment pattern for the radiation. During radiation therapy, the computer shapes and directs high-energy beams across several directions, constantly changing the shape of the beam to match the shape of the tumor. The treatment is performed on an outpatient basis and the patient usually goes home later in the day.

At the University of Rochester, doctors are testing Shaped Beam Surgery for women with advanced breast cancer who have fewer than five metastases. Women in the study will also receive chemotherapy drugs to further target the tumor. So far, preliminary observations show 75 percent of the women treated with the Shaped Beam technology have no evidence of cancer after at least two years follow-up.

According to the manufacturer, the Novalis Shaped Beam Surgery is available at:

Scottsdale Healthcare Hospital, Scottsdale, AZ
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA
University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, CO
MD Anderson Cancer Center, Orlando, FL
Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis, MD
Brigham and Women's/Harvard, Boston, MA
Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, MI
Westchester Medical Center, Hawthorne, NY
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center, Portland, OR
Sioux Valley Hospital, Sioux Falls, SD
Richardson Regional Cancer Center, Richardson, TX

For information about the study at the University of Rochester, visit their website at

For general information about the Shaped Beam technology, visit the company’s website at

For information about breast cancer and breast cancer treatment:
American Cancer Society ,
National Cancer Institute ,