Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Shorter Radiation Therapy

Armen Hareyan's picture

A new post-surgical radiation procedure for breast cancer takes only one week, compared with traditional 6-7 week therapy and is equally effective for early stage breast cancer patients.

When a breast tumor is surgically removed the patient can undergo a radiation therapy to kill those cancerous cells, which may still exist in the breast. This cuts the risk for disease recurrence and helps patients keep breasts after a surgery.


Generally, the post-surgery radiation course takes from 6 to 7 weeks and includes one procedure a day involving a few minutes of radiation. This therapy is expensive because of the costs associated with long hospital stay. A new therapy can be performed in one week only and will enable more women to undergo the procedure because of lower costs and shorter hospitalization time.

Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) is the procedure of radiating the breast. Brachytherapy is a type of APBI, which exposes to radiation only those parts of the breast which are cancer suspected. This new technique is also a type of brachytherapy, which is performed by inserting a small balloon into cavity. The balloon is then being inserted radioactive seeds via a catheter. The seeds expose high doses of radiation, which goes to the breast tissue. The radiation is high enough to kill all cancerous cells in one week only. This new method comes from a team of researchers from Medical City Dallas Hospital.

The new brachytherapy is named MammoSite Radiation Therapy System and was tested by American Society of Breast Surgeons. ASBS followed 1400 early stage breast cancer patients, 400 of whom were followed for 4 years. The research showed that those receiving balloon APBI were equally cancer free, compared to those who received a standard radiation procedure.