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The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recently cleared the use of a new type of radiation therapy system, Axxent™, for the treatment of early breast cancer. Axxent uses electronic radiation instead of radioisotopes to deliver cancer-killing radiation.

Breast cancer is diagnosed in approximately 250,000 women annually in the U.S. alone. Fortunately, if breast cancer is detected and treated early, prior to its spread, cure rates remain high.

Standard treatment for early breast cancer includes the surgical removal of the cancer, surrounding tissue, and, if cancer is found in the axillary (under the arm) lymph nodes, removal of these nodes. Following surgery, radiation is also used to reduce the risk of a cancer recurrence.

Unfortunately, radiation treatment requires several daily sessions, and patients who do not live near a facility that provides radiation therapy must often travel. As a result, patients may miss work or have their day disrupted in order to receive radiation treatments. Often, women decide not to undergo radiation therapy due to these inconveniences; this ultimately increases their risk of a cancer recurrence.

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy in which the source of radiation is directly implanted into the cavity created when the cancer is surgically removed. Cancer-killing radiation is emitted to the area surrounding the cancer. Typically, radioisotopes are used for brachytherapy-a system in which radiation is spontaneously emitted for a certain length of time.

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Axxent is a newly available type of brachytherapy that utilizes x-ray-type radiation therapy, as opposed to radioisotope radiation therapy. Miniature radiation tubes are surgically implanted into the cavity created when the cancer is surgically removed. This system allows the surgeon to deliver different doses of radiation, as well as turn the radiation on or off at desired times. The electronic radiation system also allows radiation to be implanted and delivered without the use of heavy shielding.

Axxent has been cleared for use as radiation therapy for patients with early breast cancer.

Patients with early breast cancer who are considering radiation therapy may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of treatment with Axxent electronic brachytherapy.

Reference: Xoft. FDA Clears Xoft’s Axxent™ Electronic Brachytherapy System for Treatment of Breast Cancer. Available at: http://www.xoftmicrotube.com/pdf/fdareleasefinal.pdf. Accessed January 2006.

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