Breast Health Program

What is APBI (Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation)?

In the past there have been several methods of radiation therapy delivery to treat breast cancer. Most involve treatment of the entire breast as well as a boost to the tumor bed to decrease the risk of local recurrence. Small catheters were inserted into the breast to deliver the boost to the tumor bed.

These catheters had several problems, both cosmetically and with regard to and patient tolerance. At the present time, we are revisiting the use of partial breast irradiation for the treatment of small stage I breast carcinomas.

This treatment involves the use of HDR, or high dose radiation, to treat the tumor bed in women whose cancers have a low risk of local recurrence. Brachytherapy, which is internal radiation commonly known as “seed therapy,” treatment lasts one week as opposed to six weeks with conventional external beam radiation.

A catheter is inserted either with ultrasound guidance in an outpatient setting or thorough an open procedure in the operating room. Once the position is confirmed by CT scan images (this is called the treatment is given twice a day for a week. The radiation oncologist in can easily remove the catheter.

Am I a candidate for this procedure?

Discuss your particular case with your care management team to see if you are eligible for this form of radiation.

General accepted treatment criteria:

  • Age 55 or older
  • Tumor size less than 2 cm
  • Lymph node negative
  • Breast size (varies with tumor size)
  • ER+, PR+ Her 2 – tumors

Generally excluded from APBI:

  • Large Infiltrating lobular cancers
  • Extensive DCIS
  • Lympho-vascular invasion
  • Positive lymph nodes
  • Her 2 + tumors

Ask your surgeon and or radiation oncologist if you are a candidate.


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