Older Women with Breast Cancer Experience More Complications with Brachytherapy than Whole Breast Irradiation
Women with early breast cancer typically receive a lumpectomy followed by either whole breast irradiation (WBI) or brachytherapy. Compared with WBI, it irradiates less breast tissue and requires a much shorter course of treatment.
As many as 10% of older women with breast cancer are now treated with brachytherapy, and at least 50,000 have been treated to date in the United States.
Older women receiving brachytherapy are more likely to have had a subsequent mastectomy, postoperative complications, and a higher incidence of breast pain, according to a new study. However, there was no difference in survival between the two groups of women.
For details, see Smith et al. (2012). Association between treatment with brachytherapy vs whole-breast irradiation and subsequent mastectomy, complications, and survival among older women with invasive breast cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association, 307(17), 1827-1837.