New device helps treat cervical cancer

Seven's On Call with Dr. Jay Adlersberg
July 26, 2008 1:00:13 PM PDT
About 11,000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year. Now, the FDA has approved a new device that better treats the cancer.At age 68, Dorothy Smith has no plans of slowing down.

"I don't want to stop working," she said. "I wouldn't know what to do with myself."

Smith is grateful for every second. Seven years ago, she was hit with advanced cervical cancer.

"I said, 'Oh my God, I'm going to die. I can't believe I'm stage three,'" she said. "No symptoms, no nothing."

She needed a device to deliver radiation inside her body. But her cancer was so advanced, the standard device was not an option.

"It's very cumbersome," said Dr. Aaron Wolfson a radiation oncologist at the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. "It causes great discomfort and even pain to the patients."

At the same time, Dr. Wolfson was developing a safer, more effective alternative called gynocyte.

"It allows us to give a very intense amount of radiation to the tumor with little damage to the nearby and normal tissues," he said.

The device, which stays in for three days, is also much easier to insert.

"You can give enough dose to cure the cancer without harming the patient," Dr. Wolfson said.

The old device has a 60 to 70 percent cure ratem, while the gynocyte has a 90 percent cure rate.

"The amazing thing about Dorothy is without this device, she had no chance," Dr. Wolfson said.

"It was like a blessing," Smith said. "It was a miracle and it was just in time, just for me."

Surviving has changed Dorothy's outlook.

"You look forward to every day," she said. "Every day you wake up, you thank God for another day."

And then of course, she gets back to business.

Gynocyte was just FDA approved, and doctors and hospitals across the country now have access to the device.


STORY BY: Dr. Jay Adlersberg