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Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

Accelerated partial breast irradiation (known as APBI) is a proven alternative for select early-stage breast cancer patients that shortens the length of treatment and may improve quality of life, according to research presented by Beaumont radiation oncologists at the 2013 American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) conference. The study concluded that after 10 years, there were no differences in cancer recurring or spreading with the shortened treatment done in five days compared with the standard course of six to six and a half weeks of whole breast radiation therapy.

"This is one of the first reports with prolonged follow-up after accelerated partial breast irradiation," says Jessica Wobb, M.D., a radiation oncology resident at Beaumont who presented the results at ASTRO. The data came from 3,009 patients with early-stage breast cancer who were treated at Corewell Health William Beaumont University Hospital between 1980 and 2012. With the study, 274 patients were treated with APBI compared and compared with 274 matched patients who received whole breast irradiation. The women received the radiotherapy after lumpectomy.

APBI is used to treat only the part of the breast at highest risk, rather than the entire breast. This technique delivers a high-activity radioactive seed about the size of a grain of rice through interstitial catheters, balloon-based, or strut-based brachytherapy applicators to the lumpectomy cavity while minimizing radiation exposure to normal surrounding breast tissue.

Beaumont research presented in late 2012 also demonstrated that two-day APBI produced results similar to five-day treatment in those with early-stage breast cancer.

"This comparison has shown a true benefit to using time-compressed, precise radiation therapy to treat breast cancer," says Peter Chen, M.D., radiation oncologist and principal investigator. "Women who may already have full schedules with managing professional and family life will have the opportunity to receive therapy in fewer days with quicker recovery as compared with traditional radiation therapy treatments which take up to six and a half weeks."

Beaumont's radiation oncology department is ranked among the nation's best for advanced technology, innovative treatment and research. Advanced radiation treatments developed at Beaumont include cone-beam CT scanning, adaptive radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, high-dose rate brachytherapy and hyperthermia therapy.