UT Southwestern Testing Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer

Treatment used for brain tumors being tested on breast cancer patient

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A North Texas woman with breast cancer is one of the first to try a cutting-edge radiation treatment.

    Kristin Wiginton, 45, of The Colony, is the first patient in a clinical trial at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas that uses the Accuray CyberKnife System for breast cancer.

    Breast Cancer Trial Tests Radiation Treatment Used on Brain Tumors

    [DFW] Breast Cancer Trial Tests Radiation Treatment Used on Brain Tumors
    A North Texas woman is one of the first to try a radiation treatment usually used on brain tumors. (Published Friday, Feb 11, 2011)

    CyberKnife has been used in past on brain tumors. It delivers a highly precise, targeted dose of radiation, leaving surrounding tissue untouched.

    Dr. Dan Garwood, an associate professor of radiation oncology at UT Southwestern, said he is hopeful that the laser can successful treat breast cancers.

    "That's the goal with treatments like this, is if you can put the dose of radiation where you need to put it, you are much more effective in killing the cancer cells, but keeping the radiation away from other things like lung and heart, or the skin," he said.

    Wiginton said she didn't realize she would be a pioneer when she first signed up for the trial.

    "I didn't know at first that I was the first patient until about 15 doctors showed up, and then I realized that first day that, OK, maybe I'm the first one in this," Wiginton said.

    Wiginton received five 90-minute treatments.

    "To this point, I have no side effects or compromised skin," she said.

    Doctors will know if it was effective when she is screened in six months.

    But Wiginton said she is confident and hopeful.

    "Hopefully, the radiation has worked and so, yeah, I would like to think I am cancer-free," she said.

    Her journey started with a lump on her breast. A mammogram revealed nothing, but then an ultrasound concluded that the breast tumor was malignant.

    Wiginton's doctor called just before Thanksgiving to tell her that she was Stage One and that the cancer had not spread.

    "When he called me on Monday, he said, 'Kristin, I don't have good news for you,' and of course, my heart just sank, because I thought it was just going to be a fibroid, and I was going to go on with Thanksgiving and the holidays, and it would be no biggie," she said.

    Doctors performed a lumpectomy, removing the tumor. They then suggested she undergo whole breast radiation.

    But Wiginton said she was hesitant because she has a history of heart disease and stroke in her family and became part of the UT Southwestern trial after searching the Internet for options.

    "For me, I just didn't want to do anything that might damage my heart and hurt me in the future," she said.