WHAT IS PARTIAL BREAST IRRADIATION?
Partial breast irradiation or PBI is a new alternative to traditional external beam radiation for treating a woman’s breast cancer.
Typically following a lumpectomy a woman would receive external beam radiation to her entire remaining breast tissue over the course of 6-7 weeks on a daily basis. PBI decreases the amount of normal breast tissue that is exposed to radiation and also decreases the duration of therapy to just 1 week.
This is accomplished with an internal type of radiation (or brachytherapy) that utilizes a small radioactive source that is introduced into the lumpectomy cavity via a special catheter. This procedure can be performed with any one of three different devices that provide the radiation source a conduit to the lumpectomy cavity.
Either a MammoSite, Contura or Savi device can be used since they all function as some form of catheter that occupies the lumpectomy space.This technology is more site specific, providing women with a viable alternative to external radiation.
What to Expect?
A few days after a breast surgeon removes a cancerous tumor from a woman’s breast, a small device similar to a balloon is placed into the lumpectomy cavity. During treatments a computer-controlled machine called an HDR afterloader is connected to the device and a tiny, radioactive source from the machine enters this device and delivers radiation directly to the tumor bed. This seed or source which delivers the radiation treatments, is left inside the breast for about 10 minutes, and then drawn back into the machine. The device remains in place over the course of the whole therapy which generally is administered twice a day for five days. After all of the radiation sessions are complete, the balloon is deflated and removed from the breast.
PBI offers a viable alternative to traditional, external beam radiation therapy. It is a relatively simple and minimally invasive outpatient procedure thus does not require a hospital stay.