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Mastectomy vs. Breast Conservation Therapy

Twenty years ago, the standard treatment for women diagnosed with breast cancer was a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). Since then, thanks to technological advances in detection combined with new treatment approaches, most women now have the option to save their breast by choosing a treatment called breast conservation therapy (BCT).

BCT involves the removal of the tumor (lumpectomy), followed by radiation therapy. After decades of research, physicians agree that BCT is as effective as mastectomy in decreasing the risk of local recurrence.

Whole Breast Radiation vs. Partial Breast Radiation

The current standard of care for radiation as part of breast conservation therapy is whole breast radiation, which uses an external beam to deliver radiation to the entire breast and requires 6-7 weeks of daily treatments. However, this extended treatment schedule can significantly disrupt a woman’s life, whether it is interference with family, the cost of missed work, or the difficulty of traveling to a medical facility every day for several weeks.

Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) was developed to address these issues. SAVI is a form of APBI known as breast brachytherapy, which delivers radiation from inside the breast. This allows physicians to precisely deliver treatment to the tumor cavity and surrounding tissue.

This results in two significant advantages over whole breast radiation: it reduces treatment time from several weeks to just 5 days and spares healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation. Initial research indicates APBI can be as effective as whole breast radiation in terms of survival and controlling local recurrences.