Partial breast brachytherapy


Brachytherapy for breast cancer involves placing radioactive material in the area where breast cancer has been removed from the breast.

Cancer cells multiply faster than normal cells in the body. Because radiation is most harmful to quickly growing cells, radiation therapy damages cancer cells more than normal cells. This prevents the cancer cells from growing and dividing, and leads to cell death.


Brachytherapy delivers radiation therapy directly to where cancer cells inside the breast are located. It may involve placing radioactive sources into the surgery site after removing a breast lump lumpectomy. The radiation only reaches a small area around the surgery site.It does not treat the entire breast. The goal is to limit side effects of radiation to normal tissue.

There are different types of brachytherapy. There are at least two ways to deliver radiation from inside the breast.



Brachytherapy may be given as low dose or high dose:

Other techniques include:

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Breast brachytherapy helps prevent breast cancer from returning. The radiation therapy is given after lumpectomy or partial mastectomy. This approach is called adjuvant (additional) radiation therapy because it is adding a treatment beyond surgery.

Because these techniques are not as well studied as whole breast radiation therapy, there is not full agreement about who is most likely to benefit.

Types of breast cancer that may be treated with partial breast radiation include:

Other factors that may lead to the use of brachytherapy include:

Before the Procedure

Tell your 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.

Long-term side effects may include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

There have been no high-quality studies comparing brachytherapy to whole breast radiation. However, other studies have shown outcomes to be the same for women with localized breast cancer.

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. 11-18-19: Editorial update.

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