Erasmus MC pioneers with new breast cancer therapy

Erasmus MC is the first institute in Europe that has started a new kind of radiotherapy to treat breast cancer. It involves inserting radioactive ‘seeds’ into the breast, which makes that patients no longer need to visit the hospital for their therapy all the time, but are done in one session.

Professor Jean-Philippe Pignol of Erasmus MC Cancer Institute introduced this type of radiation several years ago in Canada. ‘The world of women who’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer is turned upside down. Daily travels in order to get radiotherapy after the tumour has been removed, last for weeks and completely disrupt their lives. With this new treatment for breast cancer patients, women can receive radiation at home and continue with their life.’

Therapy from within
The treatment is called Permanent Breast Seed Implants (PBSI) and involves inserting seeds into the breast with a hollow needle. Next the seeds treat the cancer from within. With the help of scans, they can be inserted in exactly the right spot. The procedure takes about an hour, after which the patient can go home. Furthermore, this type of internal radiation doesn’t cause damage to the heart or lungs, which is a risk with external forms of radiation.

Damage reduction
The treatment is especially suitable for 50+ women with a low-risk tumour and whose lymph nodes are cancer free. Research in Canada has shown there’s a 1% chance that the cancer returns within five year in the same breast. Together with the Francisus Gasthuis & Vlietland hospital, the treatment is now being carried out as part of the research conducted by doctor Gerson Struik. He wants to improve the therapy by further reducing the skin damage radiotherapy causes. By injecting a liquid between the skin and the area that will be radiated, Struik hopes that can be done. To learn more about the effects of this liquid, half of the patients that are being treated with PBSI will get the injections, half of them won’t.

Do you want to support this research? You can, through Erasmus MC-Daniel den Hoedstichting, project 2017 Zaadjes tegen borstkanker.


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