Partial breast radiation therapy - external beam
Partial breast radiation therapy uses high-powered x-rays to kill breast cancer cells. It is also called accelerated partial breast radiation (APBI). A standard course of external beam breast treatment takes 3 to 6 weeks. APBI can be accomplished in as little as 1 to 2 weeks. APBI targets a high dose of radiation on the area where the breast tumor was removed. It avoids exposing the surrounding tissue to radiation. There are three common approaches for APBI:
Carcinoma of the breast - partial radiation therapy; Partial external beam radiation - breast; Intensity-modulated radiation therapy - breast cancer; IMRT - breast cancer WBRT; Adjuvant partial breast - IMRT; APBI - IMRT; Accelerated partial breast irradiation - IMRT; Conformal external beam radiation - breast
Radiation therapy is usually delivered on an outpatient basis, except for intraoperative radiation therapy.
Two common techniques are used for partial breast external beam radiation treatment:
Before you have any radiation treatment, you will meet with the radiation oncologist. This person is a doctor who specializes in radiation therapy.
The treatment is usually given 5 days a week for anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. It may sometimes be given twice a day (usually with 4 to 6 hours between sessions).
Rest assured, you are not radioactive after these radiation treatments. It is safe to be around others, including babies and children.
Why the Procedure Is Performed
APBI is used to prevent breast cancer from coming back. When radiation therapy is given after breast-conserving surgery, it is called adjuvant (additional) radiation therapy.
APBI may be given after lumpectomy or partial mastectomy (called breast-conserving surgery) for:
Before the Procedure
Tell your health care provider what medicines you are taking.
Wear loose fitting clothes to the treatments.
After the Procedure
Radiation therapy can also damage or kill healthy cells. The death of healthy cells can lead to side effects. These side effects depend on the dose of radiation and how often you have the therapy. Radiation can have short-term (acute) or long-term (later) side effects.
Short-term side effects can begin within days or weeks after treatment begins. Most side effects of this type go away within 4 to 6 weeks after treatment ends. Most common short-term effects include:
Long-term side effects may begin months or years after treatment and may include:
Your providers will explain care at home during and after radiation treatment.
Partial breast radiation following breast conservation therapy reduces the risk of cancer coming back, and possibly even death from breast cancer.
National Cancer Institute website. Breast cancer treatment (adult) (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/types/breast/hp/breast-treatment-pdq. Updated November 12, 2019. Accessed November 19, 2019.
National Cancer Institute website. Radiation therapy and you: support for people who have cancer. www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/radiationttherapy.pdf. Updated October 2016. Accessed August 2, 2018.
Shah C, Harris EE, Holmes D, Vicini FA. Partial breast irradiation: accelerated and intraoperative. In: Bland KI, Copeland EM, Klimberg S, eds. The Breast: Comprehensive Management of Benign and Malignant Diseases. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 51.
Review Date: 7/9/2018
Reviewed By: David Herold, MD, Radiation Oncologist in West Palm Beach, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team. Editorial update 10/15/2019. Editorial update 11/19/2019.
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