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What are the potential benefits of brachytherapy?

Brachytherapy is a very effective and highly convenient treatment for early breast cancer.

  • Highly effective in preventing breast cancer from returning: long-term studies following women after receiving brachytherapy (either as ‘boost’ treatment, or as accelerated partial breast irradiation) show that the vast majority of patients continue to remain free of cancer after treatment.1-7
    • Delivering the ‘boost’ dose of radiotherapy after whole breast irradiation by brachytherapy is equally as effective as delivering it with external beam radiotherapy.1
    • Using accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) is equally as effective as whole breast irradiation followed by a ‘boost’ dose.2-7
  • Highly targeted radiotherapy: brachytherapy places the radiation directly at the treatment site. Compared to EBRT (where the radiation has to travel from outside the body), brachytherapy prevents surrounding healthy tissues from being exposed to unnecessary radiation.9
  • Good to excellent cosmetic results: using brachytherapy after surgical removal of the tumor (either as a ‘boost’ dose of radiotherapy after whole breast irradiation or as the sole method of radiotherapy), avoids the need to surgically remove the whole breast.7 Therefore, the natural appearance of the breast can be maintained.
  • Minimized side effects: as brachytherapy is highly targeted to just the treatment site, most patients cope well with treatment and long-term side effects are uncommon.1-8
  • Short treatment time and less recovery periods: if brachytherapy is used as the sole method of
    radiotherapy after surgery (APBI), treatment can be completed in 1 week. This is a shorter treatment course than whole breast irradiation, which can take 5-7 weeks.9
  • Convenience: the shorter treatment times made possible by APBI make brachytherapy a convenient and accessible treatment for many women.


1 Jalali R, Singh S, Budrukkar A. Acta Oncol 2007;46:879-92

2. Polgar C et al. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys 2004;60:1173-1181

3. Nelson JC, Beitsch PD, Vicini FA et al Am J Surg 2009;198:83-91

4. Polgar C et al. Int J Radiat Oncology Biol 2007;69:694-702 

5.Polgar C et al. Radiotherapy and Oncology 2012. Volume 103; supplement 2. OC-87 
6. Polgar C et al. Brachytherapy 2008;7:91-92 
7. Polgar C et al. Radiother Oncol 2013;108:197-202 
8.Patel RR, Arthur DW. Hematology/Oncology Clinics of North America 2006;20:97-118 
9. Arthur DW, Vicini FA. J Clin Oncol 2005;23:1726-35