A first in radiation treatment was recently performed at the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls. We met the team who administered this course of treatment and the Wagner woman who is being dubbed the pioneer patient.
Dixie Kruntorad from Wagner is getting ready for her last brachytherapy radiation treatment at the Avera Cancer Institute by Radiation Oncologist Dr. Kathleen Schneekloth and Chief Physicist Jeff Masten both with MedXray. Luckily, Dixie's breast cancer was caught early and treated by a lumpectomy.
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Kathleen Schneekloth with MedXray says, "We are delivering the radiation dose directly to the tumor bed and that type of brachytherapy we've been using for a number of years.
After Dixie's tumor was removed, her surgeon went back in a placed a balloon catheter in the cavity that will deliver a radioactive seed the size of a grain of rice. Here's where she becomes a pioneer. She is the first patient at Avera McKennan to be treated with this Contura balloon device.
Chief Physicist Jeff Masten says, "The problem is mother nature isn't all that kind and sometimes leaves you with irregular shaped cavity or one that's a little too close in spots to the surface of the skin around that and that's when multi channel solution comes in to effect. This particular balloon has 5 catheters in it. It lets us do a highly asymmetric dose distribution and looks like something that has a dimple in it and we can avoid the skin surface that way."
Had this special device not been available, Dixie wouldn't have qualified for traditional brachytherapy because her tumor bed was too close to the skin and that's meant the difference in a lot of drive time and gas money back and forth from Wagner to Sioux Falls. External beam radiation is done over 6 to 7 weeks. Brachytherapy is done in 5 days, 2 treatments a day.
Dixie says, "Oh, I'm excited about it. Somebody has to be first and it's going very well for me. I haven't had any side effects. I think having a positive attitude helps too and I have one."
Technology, coupled with the people who know how to use it is making life better for patients like Dixie who have been through enough.
Dixie is still doing great. We met her in February, she went back to work in early March and got a good report from her oncologist a week ago. We wish her continued good health.