Breast High Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy – Mammosite®, Contura® and Savi®
Similar to permanent seed implantation, this tissue-conserving treatment is the temporary loading of radioactive seeds, with an applicator, into the breast cavity following surgical removal of a cancerous mass. Following removal of the cancerous tissue, plastic tubes called catheters or a balloon are inserted into the affected area and filled with saline solution. A portion of the catheter remains outside the body, and is connected to a computer-controlled High Dose Rate (HDR) machine that delivers the “seeds” twice a day for five days.
Your physician or clinician takes images of the catheter and balloon in the body to determine the amount of radiation needed, and then plans treatment.
Treatment with HDR Brachytherapy takes just five days compared to five to seven weeks for standard radiation therapy. The “seeds” are inserted, with an applicator, into the cavity where the cancerous tissue was removed and where cancer is most likely to recur. Your radiation oncologist then directs a special computer to guide a small, radioactive seed into the breast tissue near where the tumor was removed. The radiation is left in place for several minutes. This therapy maximizes ease of use during placement and provides more flexibility in the delivery of the radiation dose. It also allows your physician to contour the radiation dose for maximum effectiveness. Once therapy is completed each day, the seed is removed, the catheter is unplugged and secured with gauze, and you return to your normal activities. Most women feel little or no discomfort when your surgeon inserts the catheter, during treatment or during its removal. No radiation remains inside the body between treatments. Side effects are generally mild. After the end of the five days, the catheters or balloon are removed. Treatment is done on an outpatient basis and no hospital stay is required.