The range of treatment options available to breast cancer patients is expanding as accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), or brachytherapy, has been added to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Regional Care Center in Katy. The treatment is being offered to women newly diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer.
APBI is a radiation therapy method that is delivered after lumpectomy and its use has been steadily increasing. For the right patient it is a viable treatment option. Currently the standard treatment for breast cancer after breast-sparing surgery is four to six weeks of daily external beam radiation. APBI only involves five days of twice-daily treatments after surgery and may be a suitable alternative for some women.
Elizabeth Bloom, M.D. is an associate professor in Radiation Oncology and responsible for bringing the new technique to MD Anderson’s Regional Care Center in Katy. She recently arrived at the center but has been with MD Anderson since 1999. Bloom was also one of the first people to bring APBI to Houston and has treated over 150 patients with the technique since 2008.
Bloom explained the benefits of APBI after lumpectomy as treating the area of the breast at risk of recurrence in a direct way. The radiation dose to the rest of the healthy breast tissue is therefore minimized. A small device is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity and expands to fill up the space where the breast tumor was before surgery. It stays there for five to ten minutes as the short radiation treatment is carried out. It is removed before the patient leaves and the process is repeated twice a day for five days.
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