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New Radiation Treatment for Breast Cancer Offered at Fox Chase Cancer Center; Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy Has Fewer Side Effects, Shorter Treatment Time

PHILADELPHIA (January 25, 2003) — Fox Chase Cancer Center is now offering the most precise radiation therapy currently available in the Delaware Valley for treating women with breast cancer. It's called intensity-modulated radiation therapy, or IMRT.

Radiation therapy is a must after breast conserving surgery to decrease the risk of the cancer recurring. However, it is common for a woman who needs radiation to be concerned about the possible long-term effects of radiation to her skin, lungs and heart after traditional radiation therapy. IMRT is a technological advance that improves the delivery of radiation for breast cancer while minimizing the side effects.

IMRT can be optimally designed to deliver radiation to the breast while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and organs with a precision not possible with traditional radiation. IMRT works by allowing the radiation beams to vary in intensity. IMRT equipment divides each beam into multiple, smaller, more focused, pencil-thin beams that precisely target the tumor.

"Traditional radiation therapy often causes skin irritation during treatment, and may result in long-term swelling, redness or hardening of the treated breast," says Gary Freedman, MD, a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase. "In some cases, the lung and parts of the heart and coronary arteries can be exposed to radiation. With the precise technology offered by IMRT, these side effects of conventional radiation are minimized by avoiding or reducing the radiation dose to these sensitive areas."

Another benefit of IMRT is that radiation oncologists are able to shorten the treatment time for patients. "Traditionally, women undergo radiation treatment every weekday for seven weeks. With IMRT, we are developing ways to shorten that treatment to five weeks, which is a huge advance when it comes to the patient's quality of life," Freedman explains.

Fox Chase Cancer Center physicians have hundreds of hours of experience with IMRT, which is routinely used to treat men with prostate cancer at Fox Chase. Patients wishing to find out more about IMRT or to schedule an appointment should call 1-888 FOX CHASE.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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