Partial breast brachtherapy is a breast conserving therapy that has become a major treatment modality for stage I and II breast carcinoma for patients who have undergone a lumpectomy. The Department of Radiation Oncology offers a partial breast treatment technique sometimes referred to as MammoSite Breast Brachytherapy. Treatment of breast cancer with Mammosite usually involves a five-day treatment course (2 times a day) with each treatment taking about 15 minutes each. After the breast cancer is removed, a small, soft balloon attached to a thin catheter is placed inside the lumpectomy cavity. The balloon is filled with saline solution and remains in place during the five-day treatment. During the twice-per-day treatments, the catheter is attached to a computer-controlled HDR Brachytherapy unit which inserts the radioactive sources according to the treatment plan. APBI is delivered directly to the cavity from which the breast cancer was removed rather than to the entire breast, which allows for a much higher daily dose compared to that used during the standard whole breast radiation therapy and often yields excellent cosmetic results. At the end of the five days, the treatment is complete and the catheter is removed.
A new procedure with regards to breast conservatory therapy is the Contura system. The Contura system differs from a typical MammoSite treatment in that the balloon contains five separate tubes within. The addition of these tubes helps your doctor shape the dose away from the skin or chest wall. The balloon also uses a vacuum to remove excess fluid and adhere closely to the lumpectomy cavity. Due to the conformity of the balloon within the lumpectomy site, the radiation is administered only where it is needed, sparing exposure to normal breast tissue. The Contura balloon is usually used in conjunction with a lumpectomy but not all lumpectomy patients are candidates for this system. Alternately, patients who do not fit the criteria for traditional MammoSite balloon therapy may be given the option to receive treatment using the Contura system.