Breast brachytherapy

Breast brachytherapy using various implanted balloons is a method of delivering internal radiation therapy to patients with breast cancer. Several types of devises are used by the department, such as the Mammosite or the Contura balloon.

Following a lumpectomy, this form of breast brachytherapy helps destroy leftover cancer cells while sparing healthy surrounding tissue and treats in an accelerated manner to only the area of the breast where the tumor was located.

Treatment typically occurs about one to four weeks after surgery. Breast brachytherapy uses small, balloon-like catheters that are guided to deliver targeted radiation directly to the area where the breast tumor was surgically removed. This is the area where tumors are most likely to recur. Once the balloon is in place, it is inflated to conform to the shape of the cavity where the tumor was removed. A small, radioactive seed (about the size of a grain of rice) is temporarily inserted into the balloon to deliver the radiation treatment. The seed remains in place for about five to 10 minutes and is then removed and inserted about six hours later. Patients receive two treatments each day for a period of five to seven days.

Benefits of breast brachytherapy include providing treatment on an outpatient basis, minimized damage to surrounding tissue and reduced treatment time from weeks to days due to the highly-focused radiation.

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