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Doctor helped pioneer advances in Arizona's breast cancer treatment

By: Christine Harvey - March 18, 2011

Over the past decade, advances in technology have allowed for more specialized breast cancer treatment in Arizona.

Dr. Coral Quiet
Illustration:
Dr. Coral Quiet

Dr. Coral Quiet, a radiation oncologist at Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists, helped pioneer some of those advances. She began her work in Arizona in 1993 and was the first physician in the state to become a breast cancer specialist.

When she arrived in the state, Arizona's treatment statistics were alarming: 80 percent of breast cancer patients were receiving mastectomies, while only 20 percent were undergoing lumpectomies.

Realizing the need for innovation in treatment, Quiet co-founded the Arizona Institute for Breast Health in 1999. Its mission is to offer second opinions to women recently diagnosed with breast cancer, and to evaluate the best medical and surgical approaches through specialization in breast radiology, surgery, oncology and pathology.

After attending a breast conference in New Orleans, Quiet returned to Arizona with a new treatment plan for patients: BrachyTherapy, an accelerated five-day radiation therapy alternative for women with early-stage breast cancer. The treatment was developed by Dr. Robert Kuske, who now partners with Quiet to provide treatment at Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists.

BrachyTherapy treats much smaller volumes of breast and other tissues by placing radiation sources inside and adjacent to the cancerous area.

Quiet said providing patients with a variety of treatments allows them more comfort and gives them a shorter, less restrictive treatment schedule.

Forms of treatment include Mammosite and Savi, both of which Quiet helped launch. Mammosite treatment involves radiation that targets tissues in the area where cancer is most likely to occur. Quiet and Kuske were among the first physicians to use it.

While five-year clinical data from the Arizona Institute for Breast Health showed a success rate of nearly 100 percent, Quiet noticed it could be used to treat only about 60 percent of breast cancer patients.

That's when she helped to jump-start Savi, a single-entry radiation device that can be fitted to a lumpectomy cavity in a woman's breast. This treatment is more comfortable, as it avoids irritation.

Since opening the first Arizona Breast Cancer Specialist Center in Scottsdale in 2009, Kuske and Quiet have successfully treated more than 100 patients with these techniques. And with two additional centers now open in Phoenix and Gilbert, the available treatment options for women with breast cancer are growing.

Quiet said the "less is more" mentality has been an innovative idea in treating breast cancer patients.

"We are able to treat more patients in a more quick and effective way," she said. "Having that option really opens the door for a lot of patients, and it's only going to continue to get more specialized."