Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) using a type of radiation seed implants called balloon brachytherapy, a newer type of radiation treatment that offers more convenience to early-stage breast cancer patients by shortening radiation therapy from the standard six to seven weeks of treatment to only one week, is as effective in keeping breast cancer from coming back as the standard external beam radiation treatment.*
"Not only does it make radiation treatment much more convenient, it may actually increase the rate of breast conservation, since some women choose mastectomy because they live too far from a radiation center and cannot afford the time and expense of six to seven weeks of living or traveling to the center," Peter Beitsch, M.D., lead author of the study and a surgical oncologist at Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas, said. "Also, there are many women who for a host of reasons don't receive the necessary postoperative radiation and the shortened course should hopefully allow more women to receive the therapy that they need."
Many women with breast cancer are able to undergo breast conserving therapy to keep their breast after treatment. Typically, this means they first have surgery to remove the cancer (a lumpectomy) followed by a course of radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain. The standard radiation therapy treatment takes a few minutes, every day, Monday through Friday, for six to seven weeks.
Brachytherapy is one of several methods of APBI, which treats only the area surrounding the tumor, instead of the whole breast. During this type of breast brachytherapy, after the tumor has been removed from the breast, the doctor inserts a small balloon into the cavity. That balloon is then attached to a catheter that delivers high doses of radiation via tiny radioactive seeds into the lumpectomy cavity.
The American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) MammoSite RTS Registry Trial evaluated data from more than 1,400 women with early stage breast cancer who were treated with balloon brachytherapy using the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System, one type of breast brachytherapy. In this study, 400 women were followed for nearly four years and results show that women with early-stage breast cancer who are treated with APBI using this type of balloon brachytherapy had the same chance of the cancer returning as those who had the standard radiation treatment.
* This is according to the study "Recurrence and Survival in the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) MammoSite RTS Registry Trial," presented September 22, 2008, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th Annual Meeting in Boston.
The above story is based on materials provided by American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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