New cancer treatment: What to ask your doctor - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New cancer treatment: What to ask your doctor

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- The Covenant Cancer Treatment Center introduced a new option for treating cancer earlier this year.  

The Electronic Brachytherapy System, or eBx, is FDA approved to treat breast cancer by better focusing radiation at a target area.  It offers in five days what used to take up to seven weeks.  A device is implanted inside the tissue and allows radiation oncologists to attack cancer cells without exposing surrounding tissue to radiation.

Covenant became the first treatment center in eastern Iowa to offer the therapy in early 2010.

Since that time, Dr. Cassandra Foens says they have helped treat several patients, mostly those with uterine cancers.

She says the implementation of the new therapy is going really well, saying it's easier to use than they anticipated.  However, Dr. Foens is worried not enough women know to ask their doctors if they are a candidate for the treatment.

"What we're looking for are women 60 and older, preferably 65 and older. They have to have small cancers, a little deeper into the breast, they can't be close to the skin, they can't have positive lymph nodes," Dr. Foens said.

Dr. Foens says the treatments are shorter, less invasive, and expose the body to less radiation than traditional therapies.

"We need to see the patient at the cancer center before they have their surgery, and I know that's difficult after you get diagnosed, you really want to get your surgery and get it out, but we need women to take a deep breath ask their surgeons if they're a candidate for this surgery and come over and talk to us about it before they get surgery," Dr. Foens said.

Online Producer: Mike Verlo

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