Ongoing research suggests that it may be safe to give radiation treatment to only the part of the breast that had the tumor, over a shorter period of time.
There are two different approaches to APBI:
- Breast brachytherapy involves placing flexible plastic tubes called catheters, or a balloon, directly into the cavity where the lump was taken out. A small, radioactive seed is guided into the catheters or balloon and is left in place for several minutes based on the treatment plan designed by the radiation oncologist. The procedure is repeated twice daily for a period of five days, then the catheters or balloon are removed and the treatment is finished.
- External beam radiation with 3-D CRT is delivered in a similar way to standard whole breast radiation using a linear accelerator. However, it is more focused on the area around the surgery. Treatment occurs twice daily over a one week period.
The long-term results of these techniques appear promising but are still being studied. Talk with your radiation oncologist for more information.