Some women with breast cancer who prefer breast conserving surgery consisting of lumpectomy and radiation may choose a procedure that delivers radiation to the malignant tumor and not to the entire breast, according to research of a breast surgeon from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. The findings are published in the June issue of the Archives of Surgery.
Typically, radiation is given externally for six weeks but this new approach, called balloon brachytherapy, delivers radiation from the inside out. The procedure involves the insertion of a balloon device, called the MammoSite catheter, through the skin incision and into the area where the cancer is removed. The small balloon is then inflated and radioactive material is used to provide radiation to the area twice a day for five days. After treatment is completed, the balloon is deflated and the device is removed.
According to Dr. Kambiz Dowlatshahi, a breast surgeon at Rush and author of the study, previous reports have shown that this limited breast radiation is as good as entire breast radiation. Dr. Cam Nguyen, a radiation oncologist working with Dr. Dowlatshahi at Rush also noted that these patients undergoing Mammosite brachytherapy appreciate the short treatment time of one week and have a very high overall satisfaction rates.
In the current study, Dowlatshahi and colleagues describe the short-term outcomes of 112 women over age 40 treated with balloon brachytherapy. The women reported that they recovered quickly from the breast distension caused by the device and said the cosmetic results were very good. No patient has shown any evidence of cancer recurrence during 1-2 year follow-up.
"Brachytherapy with the MammoSite catheter has distinct advantages compared with (standard radiation), including a much shorter treatment time that enables working women and those at a distance from radiation centers to consider breast conservation," Dowlatshahi reported. However, he added that the long-term results, including the incidence of local recurrence, will be the subject of future reports.