According to the American Cancer Society, more than 13,000 American women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2002. More than 4,000 American women will die from cervical cancer this year. Treatment hasn't changed much in 40 years and often involves a long and painful recovery. Now, a new radiation device could provide the best chance for patients.
Dorothy Brimberry Smith is a born caretaker. She's a property manager and loves tending to animals. Two years ago she was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer and had little hope of surviving. "When I first heard I had cancer. I said 'Oh my god my life's going to end,'" Smith says.
She was the first patient to try an experimental radiation therapy at the University of Miami. Instead of a standard metal implant, doctors here use a plastic cylinder to deliver radiation to the tumor.
University of Miami Radiation Oncologist Aaron Wolfson, M.D., says the device requires only one hospital stay. No pain mediation is required to insert the device, and it is a much faster placement of the device in surgery.
A few days after the procedure, Smith was back at work tending to buildings and her birds. She says, "I stayed in the hospital. On the fourth day, I came home. And from then on it's been smooth sailing."