September 23, 2008

Seed Implants for Breast Cancer Effective

A type of radiation seed implants offers more convenience for early-stage breast cancer patients by shortening radiation therapy, U.S. researchers said.

Accelerated partial breast irradiation, or APBI, uses a type of radiation seed implants called balloon brachytherapy, a newer type of radiation treatment that shortens radiation therapy from the standard six to seven weeks of treatment to only one week, said lead author Dr. Peter Beitsch of Medical City Dallas Hospital in Dallas. The standard radiation therapy treatment takes a few minutes, every day, Monday through Friday, for six to seven weeks.

The study of 400 women found APBI is as effective in keeping breast cancer from coming back as the standard external beam radiation treatment, Beitsch said.

"There are many women who for a host of reasons don't receive the necessary postoperative radiation and the shortened course should hopefully allow more women to receive the therapy that they need," Beitsch told the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 50th annual meeting in Boston.

In brachytherapy, after the tumor has been removed from the breast, the doctor inserts a small balloon into the cavity, which is attached to a catheter that delivers high doses of radiation via tiny radioactive seeds into the lumpectomy cavity.