Doctors at Tufts-New England Medical Center (Boston) have created a computer tool that could predict the risk of breast cancer returning over a 10-year period in patients who have had breast conserving surgery — meaning a lumpectomy — to remove only the cancer.

Mona Sanghani, MD, an oncologist at Tufts-New England Medical Center, presented a study of the product earlier this week at the 48th annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO; Fairfax, Virginia) that concludes tomorrow in Philadelphia.

“It is a web-based tool that uses seven different risk factors to try to predict what any particular breast cancer patient’s risk is of the tumor coming back in that same breast,” Sanghani, lead author of the study, told Medical Device Daily in a phone interview from the conference.

The purpose of the research, Sanghani said, is to determine the benefit of radiation therapy for any given breast cancer patient who has had a lumpectomy.

“Everybody’s benefits of radiation vary, depending on their personal tumor, and we want to be able to kind of predict who’s going to get what benefits,” Sanghani told MDD.

The tool provides doctors with information regarding the risk of breast cancer returning in the same breast for any individual patient, which can then help in evaluating the potential benefit of additional treatments needed to cure the cancer, including additional radiation therapy.

“This predictive tool, however, must be validated by independent clinical data before it is widely used,” Sanghani said, providing an important caveat.

For patients with early-stage breast cancer, the standard treatment involves breast conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy to the breast over six to eight weeks to kill any remaining cancer cells, according to ASTRO.

The researchers developed a formula that takes into account all of the risk factors associated with breast cancer coming back in the same breast after breast conserving surgery, such as the age of the patient at the time of treatment, the size and grade of the cancer, if lymphatic vessels are affected, and the use of chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

The formula could help doctors determine how much a patient will be at risk for cancer return and how much a patient will benefit from radiation therapy.

The next phase of development will most likely include a database to test the tool to validate the product sometime in the next year, Sanghani said. As soon as it is validated it would be released on the market.

“I think a lot of people [at the ASTRO meeting] were very excited about the prospect of it,” she said, though noting also that they “were obviously hesitant to use it without validation,” Sanghani said.

In other news from ASTRO:

• Accuray (Sunnyvale, California), introduced three new products at the meeting designed to improve the way lung cancer is treated. The products — Xsight Lung Tracking System, Xchange Robotic Collimator Changer and 4D Treatment Optimization and Planning System — combine with the Accuray CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System to offer a noninvasive, fiducial-free lung cancer treatment option that eliminates the risk of complications common with the implantation of markers or fiducials.

Moreover, the products can shorten treatment times through treatment planning optimization and reduced treatment delivery interruptions, according to Accuray.

The Xsight Lung Tracking System uses sophisticated image processing and registration techniques to directly lock onto and track the tumor throughout the treatment. It is made to work with Accuray’s Synchrony Respiratory Tracking System to track, detect and correct for tumor and patient movement, allowing patients to breathe normally without the need for gating or breath holding techniques. It is designed to offer a noninvasive, more comfortable alternative for patients while maintaining the precision and accuracy required for radiosurgery treatments.

Accuray’s Xchange Robotic Collimator Changer is made to change secondary collimators during the treatment, eliminating the need to re-enter the treatment room while minimizing related treatment delays.

The 4D Treatment Optimization and Planning System is designed to take into account not only the movement of the tumor, but also the movement and deformation of tissue. The system is intended to help clinician’s better deliver the prescribed radiation dose to the targeted area while minimizing the damage to surrounding tissue, Accuray said.

• Varian Medical Systems (Palo Alto, California) reported that it has added capability to its radiotherapy information management and treatment planning software, thereby making it possible to modify plans with up-to-the-minute images generated during image-guided radiotherapy.

Varian makes medical technology for treating cancer and other medical conditions with radiotherapy, brachytherapy and radiosurgery. The company also supplies detectors for imaging in medical, scientific, and industrial applications.

ASTRO represents more than 8,500 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies.

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