An Introduction to Accelerated Partial-Breast Irradiation

A board-certified radiation oncologist and researcher in the field of breast cancer treatment, Dr. Laurie Cuttino of Virginia Commonwealth University has developed a reputation as a national expert in the use of accelerated partial-breast irradiation. Dr. Laurie Cuttino has authored a number of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the technique.

Accelerated partial-breast irradiation, or APBI, exists primarily as a component of breast-conserving therapy. This treatment methodology typically begins with a segmental mastectomy, in which the surgeon removes the cancerous tissue. The patient then receives targeted radiation to the area around the surgical site, as this region typically carries the greatest risk of cancer recurrence. Treatment delivery occurs over the course of 5 days and focuses on a 1- to 2-cm area of tissue.

APBI may use a variety of radiation delivery techniques. The methodology with the most supporting data is multicatheter interstitial brachytherapy, which delivers radioactive sources through 10 to 20 catheters placed in the breast tissue. Radioactive sources in this methodology are in the body only temporarily and offer the benefit of transmitting very little radiation to nearby tissues. Practitioners may also choose to use alternative delivery system, including single-dose intraoperative treatment or external beam radiation. In general, APBI therapy has demonstrated recurrence rates comparable to whole-breast irradiation.


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