Kaukauna woman grateful for innovative cancer treatment
New MammoSite breast brachytherapy pinpoints, lessens treatment time
01 / 22 / 2008
Maria Nelson, Media Relations
Affinity Health System
(920) 554-0686 (pager)
“I got called back several days later saying that I needed to come in for an ultrasound because of something that showed up on the mammogram,” Roloff remembers. “They found a small lump—cancerous—and they wanted me to have surgery.”
It’s news that no woman wants to hear. “It was all happening so fast,” Roloff says. “I felt like they were talking about someone else, not me. But everyone was very encouraged and excited about battling my cancer.”
The cause for excitement was that Roloff fit the criteria to be treated with the areas most innovative treatment option for breast cancer—MammoSite® direct radiation therapy.
Roloff was scheduled to have a lumpectomy followed by traditional radiation therapy, a process that would involve daily radiation treatment sessions for approximately six weeks. Instead, at the time of Roloff’s lumpectomy, Affinity surgeon Deidre Flanagan inserted a catheter and balloon into the breast where the tumor was removed.
“This new technology, because it shortens the therapy time from six weeks to one, makes it another powerful piece in the arsenal to fight breast cancer,” Flanagan says.
MammoSite® direct radiation therapy involves only five days of treatment in which radioactive “seeds” are inserted into the balloon twice daily and high energy radiation is directed to the tumor site, rather than the entire breast.
“Unlike conventional radiation therapy, which is once a day for six weeks, MammoSite® brachytherapy treatments are twice a day for five days,” says Dr. Tod Speer, the UW radiation oncologist at St. Elizabeth Hospital Cancer Center who was instrumental in bringing this technology to
This therapy is not the best for all women with breast cancer, Speer says. It works best for women who are at least 45, have a tumor size of 2 cm or less and have “clear surgical margins and no lymph node involvement.”
The therapy was quick, and virtually painless, Roloff says. “There was a little tenderness and it was a little sore when they took the catheter out at the end but I didn’t really have any pain.”
For Roloff, it was the perfect solution during a hectic time of year. “I was the guest of honor at our Thanksgiving dinner,” Roloff says.
And even more than the technology involved, Roloff credits the doctors and staff at
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For the Editor:
Affinity Health System, a faith-based regional health care network, is the Fox Valley’s second-largest employer, according to the Fox Cities Chamber of Commerce & Industry. For the fourth consecutive year, Affinity has been named one of the nation’s top 64 health systems based on clinical performance according to Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of information and solutions to improve the cost and quality of health care. For ten consecutive years, Affinity Health System has been named to the SDI (formerly Verispan) Integrated Health Network Top 100, an annual assessment of the 100 most highly integrated health care networks in the nation. Both St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh rank among the top 1 percent of hospitals nationwide in terms of quality and efficiency, as determined by the 2007 Premier | CareScience Select practice National Quality Award. Members of Affinity include Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Health Foundation, Oshkosh; St. Elizabeth Hospital and the St. Elizabeth Hospital Foundation, Appleton; Affinity Medical Group, a regional network of 25 family practice and specialty clinics – 22 of which are recognized as NCQA Level III medical homes, the highest level of recognition – in 14 communities; Calumet Medical Center, Chilton; and Affinity Occupational Health.