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Comprehensive breast care program

MammoSite: New Delivery System to Administer Radiation

One treatment option for patients undergoing breast conservation therapy is partial breast irradiation, also known as limited-field radiation therapy. The most widely practiced method of partial breast irradiation is breast brachytherapy, which can be deployed with MammoSite.

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center was among the first 30 institutions in the country to treat a breast cancer patient with radiation administered through a balloon catheter directly to the surgical site where the cancerous lump was removed. The therapy minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue, and the course of treatment is five days as opposed to six to seven weeks with the standard treatment method.

The process uses a new medical device, the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System (RTS).  The RTS, an inflatable balloon attached to a hollow catheter, is implanted at the site where the lump was removed. The balloon is inflated with saline solution and contrast media so it can be imaged. Radiation is then administered through the catheter directly into the inflated balloon. This is accomplished with a brachytherapy machine, which sends a pellet of radiation directly to the center of the balloon, delivering a prescribed level of radiation to the tissue surrounding the original tumor. The pellet is left in for five minutes and then removed.

A patient might receive this type of treatment on an outpatient basis twice a day for five days. Each treatment lasts five minutes. It is an alternative to external beam radiation where the entire breast is irradiated.

With the new brachytherapy application, the radiation is mostly confined to the cavity where the cancer generally would come back. The surrounding healthy breast tissue is spared radiation damage, usually redness of entire breast and in some cases, radiation burns.

Candidates for the new treatment are usually women whose cancer is caught in early stages and whose tumors are under two-and-a-half centimeters and not too close to the skin or the chest wall. It offers an alternative to women considering the breast conserving lumpectomy which requires follow-up radiation treatment. Although breast conservation therapy allows a woman to save her breast, 50 percent of patients with early stage breast cancer still choose to have a mastectomy, despite comparable long-term recurrence and survival rates. With this new radiation therapy option, more women are likely to consider the lumpectomy treatment, particularly women living a distance from a radiation therapy center.

Call MUSC Health Connection at 843-792-1414 to learn more about Mammosite.

MammoSite procedure with balloon catheter

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MammoSite Procedure 

Frequently Asked Questions

Mammosite Patient Brochure

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