Easy Come Easy Go for Breast Cancer Therapy

Author:  Bohac Adam

Date:  August 2007

On Wednesday, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced a new radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer, designed by oncology group Xoft, Inc. The new treatment, called Axxent® Electronic Brachytherapy System, allows for Medicare patients to receive treatment while delivering minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.

The Common Procedural Terminology (CPT) Editorial Panel approved a CPT code, a description of medical services that is designed to communicate uniform information, for the use of electronic Brachytherapy, effective July 1, 2007. As with all cancer treatments, the Brachytherapy System is designed to reduce recurrence of breast cancer, however, it is a new form of high dose radiation therapy for the early stages of breast cancer. A radioactive source is place inside or near the area requiring treatment. X-rays delivers a therapeutic dose of radiation directly to the tumor bed from within the lumpectomy cavity.

"The cost benefits and excellent safety and convenience of the Xoft System are overwhelmingly persuasive to utilize in our practice," said Carl Bogardus, MD of the University of Oklahoma. "And, the assignment of the electronic brachytherapy CPT and New Technology APC broadens our ability to offer this innovative technology to our Medicare constituents." Not only does Axxent offer reliable treatment to Medicare patients, but it also reduces the time required for radiation therapy from seven weeks to an incredible five days. "With Medicare patients representing approximately sixty percent of the breast cancer patient base, it's also very appropriate that this New Technology APC assignment will enable hospital outpatient providers to receive appropriate reimbursement for this important technology, making it more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries," said Michael Klein, president and CEO of Xoft, Inc.

As a result, tens of thousands of patients will have greater access to therapy that is delivered more easily and conveniently. Axxent uses a miniature X-ray that is operated by either a radiation oncologist or X-ray technician that delivers treatment in virtually any clinical setting. "The hope is to accelerate patient choice of breast cancer treatment sparing lumpectomy surgery with adjuvant radiation therapy over the alternative of a fell mastectomy," said Klein. Clinical results show brachytherapy that follows lumpectomy demonstrate a survival rate equivalent to mastectomy.