Partial Breast Irradiation Method for Breast Cancer

Partial breast irradiation method for breast cancer shortens treatment time to as little as 3 days.

This is an update of a blog first posted several years ago about partial breast radiation therapy.

The treatment of breast cancer has become increasingly less invasive over the past several decades. More women than ever are opting for breast conservation therapy rather than a more invasive mastectomy. Still, breast conservation requires the use of radiation therapy after surgery in most cases. Conventional radiation therapy involves daily brief treatments to the breast over a four-week period. This extended treatment regimen can be particularly difficult for some women, due to transportation issues, limited mobility, or absence of a nearby radiation therapy facility.

There is now a 3-day treatment option available for many women, using a technique called partial breast irradiation.

This technique, using a special implantable catheter, has been available since 2002, and hundreds of thousands of women have been treated nationwide. The device is placed as an office procedure following surgery, or occasionally at the time of surgery. The catheter remains in the breast during the 3 days of treatment. An 192Ir radiation source, connected to a computer-controlled high-dose rate (HDR) remote afterloader, is inserted into the device to deliver the prescribed dose of radiation. This is similar to the method used for prostate cancer brachytherapy, using radioactive seeds. Treatments are given once or twice daily for 3 days.

Studies have shown cosmetic results to be good/excellent in over 90% of patients. Patient satisfaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Most insurance plans cover this option.

Partial breast irradiation has been available at DeKalb Surgical Associates since 2006. Thus far, we have treated hundreds of women with excellent results. We have also evaluated women who have already had their breast conserving surgery elsewhere, who were not offered partial breast irradiation therapy as an option, or were told they were not candidates for this option. Some of these women were able to undergo this less invasive option after being evaluated in our office.

If you are interested in exploring this option further, even if you have already had your surgery, call our office at 404-508-4320 for a consultation.