Breast cancer patients may have a new option when it comes to their cancer care.
UT Southwestern Medical Center now offers more precise radiation treatments for breast cancer with a new, cutting-edge device that is only the second of its kind in the world.
The GammaPod delivers higher doses of radiation to a narrowly-targeted area, meaning breast cancer patients will have fewer treatments over shorter periods of time.
It uses vacuum suction that temporarily immobilizes the breast, holding it perfectly still so radiation hits its target and spares healthy tissue.
As a result, oncologists can narrow radiation down to a range of just three millimeters, or less than that of three stacked pennies.
Standard radiation treatment for breast cancer patients typically lasts four to six weeks, but with the stereotactic radiation delivered by the GammaPod, treatment can be shortened to just one to five days and potentially lower the toxicity of treatment.
"Convenience is very important for women. A lot of us are mothers, wives, taking care of kids, working, so coming in for radiation for four or five weeks on a daily basis is difficult," said Dr. Asal Rahimi, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Patricia Salcido, of Grand Prarie, was one of the first local patients to use the Gammapod.
"I went in like a warrior. I was like, 'Okay Lord, just help me through it,'" she said.
Thanks in part to her radiation treatments, Salcido is now cancer free.
Rahimi said possible side effects could be minor blistering and bruising, though Salcido said she didn't experience any side effects.
Rahimi co-chairs the GammaPod consortium with a doctor from the University of Maryland, where the GammaPod was initially developed.
She says clinical trials are ongoing and more are planned.
Good candidates are breast cancer patients with early stage cancer or late stage cancer patients who haven't had a mastectomy.
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