Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation focuses radiation for breast cancer patients, dramatically reducing treatment time and spares healthy tissue
Beginning, December first, the Easton Regional Cancer Center at Easton Hospital will now offer technology that is a boon to some women with early stage breast cancer.
The technique is known as Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) using HDR (High Dose Rate) Brachytherapy. Brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy that delivers high doses of radiation close to, or inside, the tumor(s) in the body. This technique ensures the maximum radiation dose is given to cancerous tissues, while minimizing exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue.
If a patient meets certain criteria and requires radiation therapy she may be a candidate to receive the course of radiation therapy directly to the lumpectomy site over a 1 week period as opposed to conventional radiation therapy in which the entire breast is treated over 6 weeks. For those meeting the criteria, as determined by the Breast Surgeon and Radiation Oncologist as a team, the benefit is two-fold. The radiation therapy is given over a shorter timeframe, minimizing the inconvenience of therapy; and the radiation is targeted directly where it is needed, without affecting surrounding healthy tissue.
Nicholas Cardiges, MD, a Radiation Oncologist and program Director at Easton Hospital spoke to the benefits of the technique: “Those qualifying patients who undergo a lumpectomy and require radiation treatment as a follow up to surgery will now have an option that dramatically shortens the duration of that follow up treatment, and targets the radiation directly where it is needed, without affecting surrounding healthy tissue. That’s a great benefit.”
Here’s how it works. A patient is diagnosed with breast cancer. A lumpectomy is performed. The pathology is reviewed and, if certain criteria are met, a recommendation is made for APBI. Prior to the treatment a catheter is placed inside the breast at the lumpectomy site. This catheter is connected to the new (HDR) machine – which contains the radioactive sources -- and becomes the passageway to deliver the radiation therapy as the source travels through the catheter and into the lumpectomy site. The source is left there for several minutes and then returned to the HDR unit. This procedure is performed twice a day for one week.
The Easton Regional Cancer Center is proud to offer our community this advance in treatment options.
Easton Hospital is a full service 254-bed acute care hospital serving the Lehigh Valley and neighboring New Jersey. The hospital offers an Emergency Department with a certified chest pain center; an active cardiac surgery program; and its Easton Regional Cancer Center is a Partner of the nationally-renowned Fox Chase Cancer Center. Easton Hospital is active in medical education, and supports fully-accredited residency training programs in surgery and internal medicine.