Breast cancer treatment has come a long way in recent years; we have seen tremendous advances in technology and treatment. In the past, in order to remove a breast cancer, aggressive and complicated surgeries were often performed that required a long recovery with increased risk of complications.
“Thanks to enhanced technology, the medical field is gradually moving toward much less invasive and more targeted procedures,” says Glenn Sandler, MD, a breast surgeon affiliated with Adventist HealthCare. In an effort to minimize treatment and recovery time, as well as to preserve healthy tissue, Adventist HealthCare offers a procedure called Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation (APBI) to its eligible breast cancer patients.
What is APBI?
APBI is a targeted radiation therapy that is used after breast conserving surgery (“lumpectomy”) to treat a localized area of breast tissue. Following surgery to remove the cancer, the surgeon places a catheter into the breast, allowing localized administration of radiation. Traditional forms of radiation are less targeted and impact a larger area of breast tissue.
“APBI allows us to treat our patients with radiation that is aimed directly at the breast cancer rather than the entire breast,” says Dr. Sandler.
What are the benefits of APBI?
APBI allows for a much shorter course of radiation for a patient, reducing the treatment time from three to five weeks to just five days. APBI also spares the majority of the breast from radiation which usually leads to an improved cosmetic outcome.
“Localized radiation (i.e. APBI) is as effective as whole breast irradiation in reducing local recurrence of breast cancer in the appropriate patient,” Dr. Sandler says. “There are also fewer side effects.”
Who is eligible for APBI?
After evaluating a patient, breast surgeons work with radiation oncologists to determine whether APBI is an appropriate course of action. APBI is offered to patients who:
- Are 45-50 years or older in age
- Have early-stage cancer
- Have negative margins( meaning that all the cancer was successfully removed)
- Have no positive lymph nodes