MD Anderson Radiation Oncologist Brings New Option, Experience to Katy

APBI Joins Growing Range of Breast Services

MD Anderson News Release 06/02/11

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's Regional Care Center in Katy now offers some women newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer a newer treatment option.

Adding to a growing complement of breast cancer services, the MD Anderson Regional Care Center in Katy now offers accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), or brachytherapy, a radiation therapy technique delivered after lumpectomy. The use of APBI steadily has been growing, and for the appropriate patient, is a suitable treatment option.

For some women, accelerated partial breast irradiation may be an alternative to the current standard which is four to six weeks of daily external beam radiation after breast-sparing surgery. With the newer technique, the number of radiation treatments is reduced to only five days of twice-daily treatments after surgery.

Bringing the technique to MD Anderson's Regional Care Center in Katy is radiation oncologist Elizabeth Bloom, M.D., associate professor in Radiation Oncology. Bloom recently moved to the center, but has been with MD Anderson since 1999 and was one of the first to bring APBI to Houston. She has treated about 150 patients with APBI since 2008 when she first introduced it at MD Anderson's Radiation Treatment Center in Bellaire.

According to Bloom, APBI, given after lumpectomy, directly treats the area in the breast at highest risk for recurrence while minimizing the dose to the remaining healthy breast tissue.

With APBI, the breast surgeon inserts a small device into the lumpectomy cavity and expands it to fill the small, hollowed-out area of the breast where the tumor once was. The devices, composed of several small catheters (tubes), are designed specifically for APBI and come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate the needs of each patient.

The device is left in place for approximately eight to 10 days for treatment planning and delivery.

When treatment begins, a radioactive seed is inserted through the individual catheters of the implanted device and left in place for about five to 10 minutes - the length of one radiation treatment - and then removed when the patient leaves the Katy center. The procedure is repeated twice daily for a total of five days.

The ideal candidate for APBI typically is a woman who is more than 50 years old and has a relatively small tumor that is confined to the breast, she said.

"Communication between the patient and her MD Anderson care team and communication within her MD Anderson team is even more vital when it comes to APBI," said Bloom. "Every day we work in synch to leverage our specialties in radiation, surgery, medical oncology, radiation physics, pathology and radiology, but our collaboration is especially evident with APBI."

She said the team at MD Anderson is ideal because of its breadth and depth of experience with the technique and the focus on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, support and recovery.

Susan Hoover, M.D., associate professor of Surgical Oncology and a breast surgeon who cares for patients at MD Anderson Regional Care Center in Katy, agrees that collaboration is key with APBI.

"When it's clear that a patient would do well with APBI and is interested in pursuing the treatment, the communication starts immediately," said Hoover, who trained in breast surgery as a fellow of The University of Texas Southwestern Breast Oncology Fellowship Program funded through Susan G. Komen For the Cure. "While this technique may not be for everyone, we want to make it as accessible as possible to as many patients as we can. It is an effective option for a select group of patients."

In addition to APBI and other radiation techniques, MD Anderson's Regional Care Center in Katy offers a growing range of breast cancer services, including care for benign breast disease and suspicious lumps. The Katy center's breast team includes medical oncologists, oncology nurses experienced in breast care, radiation oncologists, breast surgeons, social workers, pain management specialists, rehabilitation therapists experienced in lymphedema, nutritionists and genetic counselors.

MD Anderson's Regional Care Center in Katy is located on the campus of CHRISTUS St. Catherine Hospital. MD Anderson also has regional care centers in The Woodlands, Sugar Land and the Bay Area (Nassau Bay).