The surgeon's role in breast brachytherapy.

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Although two-thirds of invasive breast cancers and half of non-invasive breast cancers are amenable to lumpectomy, only about 70% of such patients choose breast conservation. Of that group, up to one-third do not follow-up with radiation therapy despite it being clinically indicated. The reasons include the patient's and surgeon's attitude toward breast conservation as well as the inconvenience and distance of a suitable radiation facility. The advent of shorter courses of radiation therapy may encourage more patients to seek adjuvant therapy. An increasingly popular and more convenient alternative to traditional whole-breast radiation therapy in patients with early-stage breast cancer is accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), for which the American Society of Breast Surgeons and the American Brachytherapy Society have promulgated guidelines for candidate selection. Although several methods are emerging, the most widely used brachytherapy technique utilizes the MammoSite single-catheter balloon brachytherapy device. In a best practices symposium convened in 2006, breast surgeons from academic and community practices with extensive experience in balloon brachytherapy developed general guidelines for integrating APBI into a breast surgical practice. Important considerations include patient age, histology, tumor location and size, and breast size. Thoughtful lumpectomy planning is essential to optimize balloon placement. Real-time sonographic guidance is essential as the surgeon should attend closely to volume excised and cavity shape. A cavity evaluation device can act as a place holder while patient suitability for APBI is considered. Many breast surgeons expert in this procedure insert the balloon catheter in the office either through a de novo skin entrance site removed from the lumpectomy incision or through the original incision. Optimally, insertion occurs within 2-3 weeks after lumpectomy. Close and continual communication with the radiation oncologist is essential to assure optimal outcomes. In this review, several key aspects of a successful APBI program from a surgeon's perspective as well as a consensus panel from a best practices symposium on the topic herein are highlighted.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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