What is Breast Brachytherapy?
Breast Brachytherapy is a type of radiotherapy which is performed after a lumpectomy. Like a lumpectomy, Breast Brachytherapy is another option in the breast conserving approach to breast cancer treatment. Your physician will discuss your options with you.
How Breast Brachytherapy works
After a lumpectomy, a device composed of flexible tubes (known as a catheter) is inserted by a surgeon into the breast and into the area previously occupied by the breast cancer. One or two days after the catheter is placed a simulation will be done to precisely plan your treatments with CT scan.
Breast Brachytherapy involves a series of targeted treatments where a small radioactive seed travels from an HDR machine and into the catheter. It treats the breast from the inside. Breast Brachytherapy treats only the lumpectomy cavity and a small surrounding buffer of tissue. The intent of these treatments is to kill any remaining cancer cells that may be lingering in the cavity. Breast Brachytherapy is completed over a short period of time and treats only part of the breast. For this reason, breast brachytherapy may also be referred to as Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation.
1. Placement: The closed applicator is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity through a single incision. Placement of the applicator can be done at the time of the lumpectomy or as a post-operative procedure.
2. Expansion: Once the applicator is placed in the cavity, rotation of the expansion tool deploys the catheters, conforming to the size of the cavity.
3. Radiation Delivery: The individual catheters are connected to an HDR afterloader for delivery of the radiation source. The multiple catheters offer more flexibility to sculpt the dose based on patient-specific anatomy. With the close proximity of the catheters to the targeted tissue, the radiation dose in each catheter can be modified to protect healthy tissues and organs, such as skin, lung and heart. Typical treatment is twice a day for five days.
4. Removal: After the final treatment, the applicator is collapsed and removed.