BRACHYTHERAPY FOR BREAST CANCER
Used to treat breast cancer in Casper, Lander, and Laramie, WY
WHAT IS BRACHYTHERAPY?
Brachytherapy is a process by which radiation pellets are placed inside the body to treat the breast cancer from the inside out. There are two types of brachytherapy: low dose rate brachytherapy (LDR) and high dose rate brachytherapy (HDR).
LDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers a high dose of radiation at a low-dose rate from implants placed permanently in the organ. HDR brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers a high dose of radiation from implants temporarily placed close to, or inside, the tumor in the body.
HOW DOES BRACHYTHERAPY WORK TO TREAT BREAST CANCER?
Brachytherapy for breast cancer is called Partial Breast Irradiation (PBI). Instead of radiating the whole breast, a device is inserted at the site of the lumpectomy. The device contains catheters that radiate the area, delivering more targeted treatment than traditional radiation.
HOW DOES RADIATION WORK TO TREAT CANCER?
Radiation creates small breaks in the DNA in cancer cells. These breaks damage the DNA, hindering the cells’ ability to divide. If the cells cannot divide, the tumor cannot grow.
WHICH OTHER TYPES OF CANCERS CAN BE TREATED WITH BRACHYTHERAPY?
- Cervical cancer
- Uterine cancer
- Previously irradiated tumors
- Prostate cancer
- Lung cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Head and Neck cancer
- Anal/Rectal cancer
HOW LONG IS TREATMENT?
Treatment times depend on many factors such as the location, type and size of the breast cancer. Some HDR brachytherapy treatments are delivered only once, whereas other treatments may require the patient to come in once or twice a day for a period of one or more weeks. Treatment is administered in a few minutes.
LDR brachytherapy is a one-time procedure performed on an outpatient basis. The procedure itself generally takes about an hour.
WHAT ARE THE SIDE EFFECTS ASSOCIATED WITH BRACHYTHERAPY?
Brachytherapy is usually well tolerated. Side effects are generally specific to the area being treated and may include some tenderness and swelling in that location. Because brachytherapy is hyper-focused on a small area, there may be fewer side effects than with other treatments. A patient who notices changes that are concerning should notify the treatment team.