What is brachytherapy for breast cancer?
Brachytherapy is a form of internal radiotherapy. It can be used to treat a malignant tumour that has not spread to other areas or organs, since it irradiates only the affected area or organ.
This therapy can be combined with other treatments depending on the stage of the tumour, the hormonal receptors and many other factors that are assessed on a case by case basis.
Why is it done?
Breast brachytherapy may be recommended in the following cases:
- When the tumour is greater in size than 2 or 3 centimetres and a high dose of radiation can be issued in the area where the tumour is located. The advantage of breast brachytherapy is that it allows only the area of the tumour to be irradiated, without affecting the costal wall or the heart.
- When tumours are small in size and it is not necessary to target the entire breast. This means that part of the breast is irradiated without affecting healthy tissues.
What does breast brachytherapy consist of?
In the breast brachytherapy procedure, catheters are placed through which the radiation will be introduced. Through using catheters, the specific dose is directly focused on the tumour and will not affect other tissues or give rise to side effects.
Preparation for brachytherapy
Breast brachytherapy treatment may be combined with a lumpectomy or partial surgery of the breast to remove the tumour. After removal surgery, breast brachytherapy can be performed, and combined with other treatments assessed on a case by case basis.