According to the American Cancer Society, more than 13,000 American women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2002. More than 4,000 American women will die from cervical cancer this year. Treatment hasn't changed much in 40 years and often involves a long and painful recovery. Now, a new radiation device could provide the best chance for patients.
Dorothy Brimberry Smith is a born caretaker. She's a property manager and loves tending to animals. Two years ago she was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer and had little hope of surviving.
"When I first heard I had cancer. I said 'Oh my god my life's going to end,'" Smith said.
She was the first patient to try an experimental radiation therapy at the University of Miami. Instead of a standard metal implant, doctors here use a plastic cylinder to deliver radiation to the tumor.
University of Miami Radiation Oncologist Aaron Wolfson, M.D., says the device requires only one hospital stay. No pain mediation is required to insert the device, and it is a much faster placement of the device in surgery.
Dr. Wolfson actually created the device and says early study results are promising.
"We have yet to have women having relapsing of their cancer, which is extremely unusual considering our patients have very advanced cancers," Dr. Wolfson said.
A few days after the procedure, Smith was back at work tending to buildings and her birds.
"I stayed in the hospital. On the fourth day, I came home. And from then on it's been smooth sailing," Smith said.
Smith has been cancer-free for two years. The trial is still ongoing, but 28 patients have undergone the same experimental treatment with good results. The new device could be approved for widespread use within the next three years.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Xiaodong Wu, Ph.D.
University of Miami
Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center
1475 NW 12th Avenue
Miami, FL 33136