Sunday, February 11, 2018

Brachytherapy for Breast Cancer Follow Up

Back in 2007, when I was diagnosed and treated for my breast cancer, I heard about this new technique for the radiation portion of treatment, brachytherapy. I was jealous. It was not offered at my hospital. The big thing I liked was that it took so much less time for treatment.

Breast cancer treatment takes a LONG time. I was diagnosed at the end of May, after two surgeries that went into July, I finished chemo in December, and needed one more surgery (don't ask). I was then facing 7 weeks of radiation. I just wanted to be done. Since brachytherapy wasn't available I had the standard radiation treatment. I couldn't even have the shorter radiation protocol where you go twice a day for a week (blanking on the name).

Now, I was reading another article discussing breast biopsies in follow up breast cancer treatment. Buried in the article is this statement:

"They looked at 41,510 breast cancer patients in MarketScan (the national database of patients with private insurance, age 64 years and younger), and 80,369 breast cancer patients in SEER-Medicare (patients age 65 years and older). All had Stage I - III disease and were diagnosed between 2000 and 2011. Diagnosis and procedural codes were used to identify biopsy rates during follow up.

Five- and 10-year overall incidence of breast biopsy was 14.7 percent and 23.4 percent, respectively, in the MarketScan cohort, and 11.8 percent and 14.9 percent, respectively, in the SEER-Medicare cohort. Adjuvant chemotherapy use, patient age, and endocrine therapy were independently associated with biopsy in both cohorts.

Of note, say the researchers, the five-year incidence of breast biopsy was higher in women treated with brachytherapy, compared to those treated with whole-breast radiation: 16.7 percent in the MarketScan cohort and 15.1 in the SEER-Medicare cohort..."

The study does note that women can become very anxious after breast cancer treatment but does not offer a reason why the biopsy rate is higher after brachytherapy. But says they are still actively recruiting patients. 

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