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Breast Cancer Patients Experience a Faster Return to Normal Life
Date:10/8/2008

Radiation Therapy Treatment Takes Only Five Days

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A typical course of radiation therapy following breast cancer surgery involves 30 sessions over six weeks. But for certain women undergoing lumpectomy, Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI), a newer radiation technology now available at Virginia Hospital Center, is allowing a faster return to normal life, with fewer side effects.

APBI, also known as "high dose rate breast brachytherapy", is a shortened course of high dose radiation therapy that targets the area of the breast where the cancer is most likely to recur. Unlike external beam radiation, which irradiates an entire region of breast tissue, APBI concentrates the radiation dose inside the cavity of the original tumor.

In APBI, a balloon filled with saline is temporarily embedded in the lumpectomy site following excision of the tumor. A radiation "seed" inserted into the balloon is then used to deliver radiation in a 360-degree motion inside the surgical cavity twice a day for five days. Each treatment session takes about seven minutes, and the entire course of therapy can be completed in just ten sessions.

"Concentrating the radiation precisely where the tumor used to be is strategic," explains Timothy M. Jamieson, MD, PhD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Virginia Hospital Center. "Statistically, 95 percent of recurrence happens in the same quadrant of the original tumor, most often within one or two centimeters of the first malignancy."

The targeted nature of APBI also means less damage to healthy tissue, and therefore fewer side effects such as fatigue and skin burns. "The idea is that we can reduce the total volume of radiation by concentrating on the area of greatest risk (the tumor bed) without radiating healthy tissue," explains radiation oncologist Robert L. Hong, MD.

With the acquisition of MammoSite(R), a leading brand of APBI technology
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SOURCE Virginia Hospital Center
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