Diane’s Story: Treating Breast Cancer with CyberKnife Technology

The American Cancer Society reports that there will be almost a quarter of a million women diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States this year and over 8,000 of those cases will be in New Jersey. Even though breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in U.S. women, survivorship rates continue to steadily increase. Thanks to advances in early detection and treatment, more and more women diagnosed with breast cancer are alive today.

Diane is one of those women. Diane was diagnosed with breast cancer in late 2015 and today the 69-year-old Waretown, New Jersey resident is happy and healthy. Diane’s journey with breast cancer started at her local hospital. Her annual screening mammogram showed an abnormality. A biopsy followed and was positive for cancer. She went on to have surgery and was diagnosed with a very early Stage O Breast Cancer. After Diane’s surgery, it was recommended to her to follow-up with radiation therapy. She made an appointment at New Jersey CyberKnife and met with Dr. David D’Ambrosio, one of the radiation oncologists on staff.

While at the appointment, Diane learned about how New Jersey CyberKnife, in cooperation with the department of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University Hospital, was starting a clinical trial to evaluate accelerated partial breast irradiation delivered with the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System in early stage breast cancer in five treatment sessions. Radiation therapy is often used to treat breast cancer after a tumor is removed. In the past, radiation has been administered to a patient’s entire breast over an approximate seven week period of time to increase the likelihood that any cancer cells remaining in the lumpectomy area are destroyed. Since healthy cells, as well as cancer cells, can be affected by radiation, partial breast irradiation, a newer technique, minimizes exposure to the rest of the breast, skin, ribs, lungs and heart. Partial breast irradiation administers radiation to only the immediate area surrounding the original tumor, an area where breast cancer is most likely to recur.

The purpose of the study is to review the records of 200 patients with Stage 0 or Stage 1 breast cancer who receive accelerated partial breast irradiation using radiosurgery. Specifically, the study will assess effectiveness of the treatment in preventing a recurrence of the breast cancer, infection rates, and cosmetic results. Diane was very interested in the study and wanted to be enrolled. Even though her insurance company initially denied coverage for the treatment, Diane was determined to participate in the study. Dr. D’Ambrosio won an appeal and was granted permission to use Cyberknife to treat Diane.

On April 8, 2016, Diane received her first of five CyberKnife treatments. The session went quickly as she watched DVD’s and “traveled all over the world” “The treatment process was extremely easy,” she said. “I was comfortable, did not feel any pain, and aside from some mild tiredness, did not experience any negative side effects afterwards. The staff was awesome and everyone was kind, caring, and pleasant. It couldn’t have been any easier.”

Today Diane feels wonderful. She currently has no evidence of breast cancer and she has nothing but positive things to say and remember about her time at New Jersey CyberKnife.
“I feel like one of the lucky ones to receive CyberKnife treatment,” said Diane. “I want to thank Dr. D’Ambrosio and the staff at New Jersey CyberKnife for taking care of me and involving me in their research. I’m so proud I participated in the study and if this helps just one person, I’ll feel like I really accomplished something.”