Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bonnie Verbosky is a very driven woman.
Fourteen years ago, she had breast cancer, treated by removing the lump and giving radiation to the breast.
Last year, the cancer came back.
Her surgeon wanted to do what was standard.
“She said protocol is to do a mastectomy. I said, ‘I’m not ready for that doc, I’m not ready to lose body parts,’” Bonnie said.
“This is not acceptable for that group of ladies that fail, you should have another alternative that allows them to try to preserve the breast again,” Allegheny General Hospital radiation oncologist Dr. Mark Trombetta said.
She was determined to find another way, so she entered a clinical trial looking at internal radiation. She was a good candidate because the recurrence was caught early and the lymph nodes were not involved.
The small area of cancer was removed, and a balloon was put in, with an external stem. Radiation is then given in through the balloon, so it only treats the area of the tumor.
“Every day, I came in five days, twice a day,” Bonnie explained.
A recent study at Allegheny General Hospital of 22 women with recurrent breast cancer took this treatment. Followed for an average of five and a half years, 17 of them required no other treatment.
And so far, this classic car enthusiast shines on as well.
The kind of internal radiation Bonnie got for recurrent breast cancer is only available at specialized centers as part of a clinical trial. With more research, it could become a more widespread option for women in this situation who don’t want a mastectomy.