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APBI: The Paradigm Shift in Breast Cancer Radiation Treatment

As new study results become available, APBI could become the standard of care for early stage breast cancer. Take a moment to read this very interesting article published in ITN - Imaging Technology News and online.

SAVI device allows physicians to sculpt radiation based on patient anatomy.
The SAVI device has a strut-based, open architecture design
that allows physicians to sculpt radiation based on patient-specific anatomy.

A potential paradigm shift is gathering momentum in the treatment of early-stage breast cancer, driven by data showing strong clinical outcomes for the use of more sophisticated therapies. Newer therapies using accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI, also referred to as breast brachytherapy) not only allow women to remain whole, they also offer properly selected patients several advantages over traditional whole breast irradiation (WBI).

Brachytherapy/APBI has become more and more popular in the United States, embraced by patients and their surgeons/oncologists alike. Currently, more than 10 percent of all women receive breast conservation therapy with APBI, and more than 100,000 patients have been treated with brachytherapy. APBI provides a shorter, far more convenient course of treatment - five days compared to six weeks for WBI. It also limits radiation exposure to the affected part of the breast, sparing lung, heart and other normal tissues.

Brachytherapy has been intensively studied and used in modern clinical practice since the early 1990s. Initial research dates back to the 1920s, when the British surgeon Jeffrey Keynes inserted radium needles into breasts with breast cancer before any external radiotherapy was available. Early techniques required the insertion of multiple catheters inserted individually into the breast. Interstitial multicatheter brachytherapy remains an excellent reliable technique, but newer single-entry applicators allow APBI to be available across the nation and indeed the world, even where brachytherapy experience is limited. This evolution in techniques potentially changes the way early-stage breast cancer is approached.

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