Brachytherapy successfully treated my breast cancer
Maria Luiza is from Valencia, Spain, and describes how she feels after she received brachytherapy to treat her breast cancer.
"You don't feel anything. It went very well. So far, I'm absolutely delighted."
Maria Luiza is a courageous 75-year-old person and also a breast cancer survivor. She lives in the province of Valencia, a beautiful region of Spain, where she is a dressmaker. Maria Luiza loves being surrounded by her family which includes her beloved husband, their three children, and five grandchildren - four girls and one boy.
The breast cancer diagnosis
When sharing her story, Maria Luiza remembers very well the day she woke up to something unusual in her breast. She recalls feeling a lump, although without any pain. She quickly made an appointment with her doctor, who ordered an ultrasound. A subsequent biopsy confirmed that she had cancer in her breast and that surgery was necessary. She was then referred to a hospital in Manises, near Valencia, where she had a successful operation.
The treatment plan for breast cancer
There are several ways that breast cancer can be treated. It often includes different treatments such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or targeted therapy. Depending on how far the cancer has progressed, patients can receive one or a combination of these treatments.
To learn more about therapeutic options for breast cancer, you can visit our page which provides a broad overview of the different treatments.
The operation and radiation treatments
Maria Luiza underwent the most common treatment plan for her cancer.
She first had a surgical procedure to remove the cancerous tumor. Once completed, she was transferred to the Valencian Oncology Institute, where she met Dr. Guinot, a renowned radiation oncologist with expertise in radiotherapy and brachytherapy. As for most cancer patients, the next step of her cancer treatment protocol included a series of radiation therapy sessions. This form of treatment is recommended for post-operative care, as it helps to eradicate any remaining cancerous cells.
Maria Luiza had a total of 16 sessions of radiation therapy. The first 15 were external beam radiotherapy. This is the most commonly known and uses a machine outside the body to send high-energy beams, such as X-rays, directly to the area of the body being treated. The source of radiation is directed at the tumor location through the skin. The purpose is to destroy the remaining cancer cells and limit the damage to healthy cells while protecting the surrounding tissues.
With targeted therapy, there are usually fewer and less severe side effects to the body than with chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
The last radiation session was a different one and is called brachytherapy.
Brachytherapy to treat breast cancer
Brachytherapy also known as interventional radiotherapy is a radiation treatment that is given directly into the patient's body as close to the cancer as possible. The radiation is given using tiny devices such as wires, seeds, or rods filled with radioactive materials. These devices are called implants and are temporarily inserted in the patient until the radiation procedure is completed.
At Elekta, we are here to support patients and families by providing meaningful resources about treatment options and brachytherapy. To learn more about brachytherapy, how it works, and what are its benefits, visit aboutbrachytherapy a website dedicated to patient education.
In Maria's case, brachytherapy came at the final step of her treatment protocol as a boost treatment to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy. During her brachytherapy procedure, the doctors inserted 3 needles in her breast that were used as guides to deliver the radioactive materials at the precisely targeted location.
The benefits of brachytherapy in treating breast cancer
Maria Luiza speaks highly of her experience with brachytherapy, sharing how it was a much faster and less painful alternative to other radiation treatments she had. She says, "I was in and out of the operating room in three hours, and when they put me to sleep - I couldn't even feel it! I'm really pleased with the outcome, and I believe it has been immensely beneficial to me."
Like many cancer survivors, Maria Luiza feels blessed to be able to share her story and give hope to those in fear. She now aspires to a healthy life and says: "I just want the coming years to be as good as the ones we've had so far."