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Brachytherapy

Increasingly, women are deciding to have treatment of breast cancer with a safe and effective form of radiation therapy known as “breast brachytherapy.” This method of therapy, which delivers radiation directly into a tumor site from the inside out, is a way to save most of the normal breast tissue, preserve the cosmetic appearance of the breast, and avoid the physical and emotional trauma of extensive breast removal surgery.

In the past, radiation has been administered to a patient’s “entire” breast (whole breast radiation) via external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). EBRT treatment is delivered to the tumor site via a radioactive beam from outside the patient’s body on a daily basis

over an approximate seven-week time period. Recent studies have however shown that in most cases, limiting radiation to just “part” of the breast (partial breast radiation) is equally as effective and causes less injury to surrounding healthy breast tissue.

While both external beam and brachytherapy can be used to deliver partial breast radiation, brachytherapy is the quickest, most direct, and conformal way to deliver the radiation to the target.

High dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy for breast cancer is usually administered as a complete course given twice a day for a total of five days on an outpatient basis.

The Advantages of HDR Brachytherapy

  • Overall treatment time is 1 week versus 6 to 7 weeks for external beam radiation therapy.
  • Conserve your breast and yield excellent cosmetic results.
  • Breast brachytherapy delivers a precisely targeted dose to the tissues most at risk for recurrence, increasing the likelihood of tumor control.
  • Reduces radiation dose to the lungs and opposite breast.
  • Avoids potential long term side effects by reducing radiation doses to healthy tissue.
  • Breast brachytherapy causes no delays in other treatments such as chemotherapy.
  • Placement of the applicator (Tube and Button or Mammosite balloon) is simple and safe.
  • Treatment is given on an outpatient basis, so no hospital stay is required.