KINGSPORT – Holston Valley Medical Center this week became the first hospital in the region to utilize the MammoSite radiation therapy system for the treatment of breast cancer.

Dr. Byron May, a radiation oncologist, began the breast conservation therapy with a 68-year-old female patient Monday. The outpatient procedure delivers radiation from inside the breast directly to the tissue where cancer is most likely to recur.

Breast conservation therapy, used when cancer is detected in its early stages, allows many women with breast cancer to avoid mastectomy by undergoing removal of the cancerous tumor and treatment of the whole breast with radiation therapy.

“This is a very patient-centered new treatment,” Dr. May said. “Traditional breast conservation therapy can require six weeks of treatment. That’s a huge time constraint, especially if the patient has to travel from out of town to receive the treatment each week.

“The MammoSite treatment, though, is completed in only five days. In most cases, the woman can be back to work the week after treatment begins.”

The MammoSite system works by inserting the radiation source inside the cavity left by the removal of the tumor. This limits the amount of healthy breast tissue exposed to the radiation, while maintaining a success rate comparable to traditional breast conservation therapy and mastectomy.

“This treatment may not be the best option for all breast cancer patients, but it gives physicians an attractive new weapon in our fight against this disease,” Dr. May said. “The most important factor in curing any breast cancer is early detection, so we still urge regular self-exams and mammography.”


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