We Are The
Pioneers of Breast Brachytherapy
In 1991, no one was considering
partial breast irradiation (PBI). In England, there had been two miserable attempts at PBI with poor tumor control rates. Undaunted, Dr. Robert Kuske, chairman of radiation oncology, at the time of the famed Ochsner Clinic, pursued a phase II clinical trial investigating PBI as a 4-5 day alternative to conventional 6 weeks of external beam whole breast irradiation (WBI). He noted that the women in the British trials were poorly selected, inadequately treated, with non-existent quality assurance. Many of the women on these British trials were not even candidates for breast conservation therapy itself and should have been offered mastectomy!
Critics likened Dr. Kuske's PBI research to a salmon swimming upstream to spawn. Over the last 18 years, the journey has been long and arduous past dams (obstructions in the progression of clinical research), past Grizzly bears (hungry opponents trying to devour the entire project), and potential wrong turns up blind streams. But the reward at the end has been the spawning of countless individual studies, methods, and the birth of a potential paradigm shift in the very way that breast cancer should be treated.
Over the last two decades, PBI research represents the ideal of how medical research should progress. A single patient presented a challenge to two physicians, who sought to solve her particular problems and cure her cancer while taking quality of life, her family, her work, and her life preferences into consideration (read about Rosario's story by clicking here.) With brachytherapy, this patient could be successfully treated in four days instead of 6 weeks, and she was quickly back home with her family and returning to work. This single patient inspired the original New Orleans brachytherapy trial, and institutional review-board approved study. Two years later, doctors in Royal Oak Michigan started their own trial, validating the New Orleans favorable outcomes. Four years later, Dr. Kuske proposed a national phase II clinical trial to be sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. Six years later in 1997, the trial opened and became the most successful and rapidly accruing breast cancer trial in the history of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group. The positive results of this trial (with now antiquated brachytherapy techniques!) were published in the international radiation oncology journal in 2008. Eleven years later in 2002, Drs. Kuske, Vicini, Arthur, White, and others proposed a historic randomized phase III clinical trial directly comparing 5-days of PBI with 6 weeks of conventional WBI. This trial will probably complete near the end of 2012.
Throughout this PBI history, Dr. Kuske has been the unquestioned voice and leader in this research. He has advanced the techniques and technology, and championed the research bringing us to where we are today. He has remained totally committed to his patients, who let him know in no uncertain terms that they wanted a shorter more convenient alternative with less radiation exposure to surrounding normal tissues.
Dr. Coral Quiet
Dr. Scott Tannehill
Dr. Greg Maggass
Dr. Maggass is an established leader and pioneer in prostate brachytherapy and has treated thousands of men over the years in Arizona. He has learned PBI techniques from Drs. Kuske and Quiet, and brings special expertise to the Gilbert, Mesa, Chandler, and East Valley region. With his reputation, experience, and vision, Dr. Maggass will help ABCs expand our ability to offer all PBI options to a large number of women in the Valley.
With four outstanding physicians who wish to advance breast cancer care for Valley women, Arizona should continue to be the world-wide pioneers in this rapidly changing field of medicine.