Brachytherapy is the first breast cancer treatment to deliver radiation directly to the original tumor site and decrease radiation time. While standard breast brachytherapy involves surgically implanting up to 24 catheters into the breast, a new treatment called MammoSite calls for just a single catheter to perform the therapy.
MammoSite Radiation Therapy System is a small, soft balloon attached to a thin catheter. It is placed inside the lumpectomy cavity, the space left after the tumor has been removed. MammoSite delivers radiation from inside the lumpectomy cavity when a small radioactive source, known as a seed, is placed within the balloon by a computer-controlled machine.
MammoSite offers many advantages to radiation therapy patients.
- Radiation is delivered to the area where it is needed most.
- Radiation to healthy tissue is minimized, reducing the potential for side effects.
- The treatment is given on an outpatient basis, so no hospital stay is required.
- Radiation can be delivered in five days instead of over a period of seven weeks.
- A clinical study has shown cosmetic results to be good/excellent in 88% of women treated with MammoSite.
Frequently Asked Questions about MammoSite
Am I a candidate for MammoSite?
Physicians generally recommend MammoSite for appropriate early-stage breast cancer patients. There are many factors that your physician will need to consider when determining if MammoSite is right for you. Talk to your doctor and carefully consider all treatment options before deciding.
What are the side effects of this type of treatment?
In clinical trials, some women did experience minor breast-related side effects following treatment, such as redness, bruising, and breast pain. All of these are common side effects of breast surgery and/or radiation therapy and usually last for only a short time. You may also have some drainage from the catheter insertion site, which is normal and will decrease over time.
Are there any risks in exposing family members to radiation while the MammoSite balloon is implanted?
No, this is not possible because the radioactive seed is present in your breast during treatment sessions only. No radiation remains in your body between treatments or after the final treatment. The MammoSite balloon and the liquid inside of it are not radioactive in any way.
How long will the device stay in the breast? How long does the radiation treatment last?
The catheter will typically be in your breast for seven to 10 days. Radiation therapy with MammoSite will last no more than five days.
Will insurance cover the cost of the procedure?
Radiation therapy with internal radiation is an accepted treatment for breast cancer and is covered by most insurers. Specific coverage for MammoSite will depend on your individual health plan.