Quickly Vetted Breast Cancer Treatments Are Highly Experimental

After a woman had a cancerous lump removed from her breast, her doctor referred her to a specialist who uses a newer form of treatment where radioactive “seeds” are inserted in the tumor site. This procedure could be completed in only five days instead of the six weeks typically required for conventional treatment. This newer treatment has been performed on about 45,000 breast cancer patients in the country since the FDA cleared it for use. However, the patient sought a second opinion about this treatment and learned that it is still considered highly experimental. The MammoSite system is among the thousands of devices the F.D.A. lets onto the market each year only cursory review and with no clear evidence that they help patients. Doctors are free to use those products as they see fit, yet they do not have to inform patients that the devices are not proved. The doctors are frequently paid more by Medicare as a way to compensate them for the extra time and expense of adopting new procedures. This allows the unproven products to become widely adopted. Thus, there is a growing debate among cancer specialists on whether there is enough evidence to recommend the new treatment to woman who are not part of a clinical study. To read the full story, click here.

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