How effective is brachytherapy in treating breast cancer?

Brachytherapy is a very effective treatment option for early breast cancer. Long-term studies following women who have received brachytherapy (either as a ‘boost’ dose of radiation after whole breast irradiation or as accelerated partial breast irradiation) show that the vast majority of women continue to remain free of breast cancer many years after treatment.

Will the brachytherapy procedure hurt?

If your brachytherapy involves the placement of needles or a balloon device within the breast, your treatment will be performed under a general anesthetic or in some cases local anaesthetic +/- sedation and so it shouldn’t hurt. You may feel a little bit of discomfort afterwards but this usually soon wears off.

If I have brachytherapy, do I have to stay in hospital overnight?

This depends on how many doses (known as ‘fractions’) of brachytherapy you require, your physical status and the proximity of the hospital. You may need to stay in hospital for a few days.

How will I know if brachytherapy has worked?

After your procedure, regular appointments will be scheduled to check that the tumor is responding to the treatment.

What are the side effects of brachytherapy?

All treatments for breast cancer carry a risk of side effects. Short-term side effects of brachytherapy can include skin reaction, hematoma, breast pain. There is also a small risk of infection following the placement of the catheters. Late side effects are rare and can include skin hyperpigmentation, telangiectasia, fibrosis and fat necrosis.

How soon can I get back to work after receiving brachytherapy?

The recovery time after brachytherapy is usually short. After 2-5 days most patients can get back to their everyday activities.