Accelerated Partial-Breast Irradiation (APBI) is a treatment for some women who have had breast-conserving surgery. It works by delivering radiation from inside the lumpectomy cavity (the space left after the tumor is removed) directly to the tissue surrounding the cavity where the cancer is most likely to recur.

APBI using the Mammosite® Radiation Therapy System (RTS) is a 2-stage process involving balloon placement and radiation delivery. After the surgeon performs the lumpectomy, an uninflated balloon connected to a catheter, is placed inside the cavity where the tumor was located.

Once in place, the balloon is inflated with a sterile salt-water solution to fit snugly into the lumpectomy cavity while a portion of the catheter remains outside of the breast. APBI is given under the direction of a radiation oncologist who determines the amount of radiation needed. It is delivered on an outpatient basis twice a day for 5 days. During radiation delivery, the portion of the catheter that remains outside the breast will be connected to a computer-controlled machine. A tiny amount of radioactive material is delivered into the catheter from the machine and into the inflated balloon.

Radiation is delivered for about 10 minutes from within the balloon. The amount of radiation that is delivered will vary per patient, which is predetermined prior to treatment. When the treatment is completed, the radioactive material is withdrawn and the machine is disconnected from the catheter.

No radiation will remain in the breast between treatments or after the final treatment. Usually on the same day as the final radiation treatment, the balloon is deflated and easily removed.

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