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Asked the Expert:

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ E. Ann Czyzewski, M.D.

E. Ann Czyzewski, M.D.
Radiation Oncology​
Sees patients at the Weston Center

Question: Are there new developments in radiation therapy for breast cancer?​

Radiation therapy (RT) to the whole breast for several weeks after breast conserving surgery is the standard of care for early-stage breast cancer.

It helps reduce the risk of cancer returning after a tumor has been surgically removed by lumpectomy.

However, the standard five- to six-week course of radiation is inconvenient for some women who have to travel long distances for their treatment.

This was the reason for developing an alternative RT technique that delivers an accelerated course of radiation to the lumpectomy cavity site over a course of one week.

This technique, called accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), is being studied in national clinical trials to determine if it works as well as standard whole breast irradiation.

APBI has been a part of ongoing clinical trials available through Marshfield Clinic.

Thus, for a select group of women with early stage breast cancer, APBI is available.

It’s important to remember that APBI is only for appropriately selected patients who have a low risk of cancer recurrence.

As the results of these trials are published, APBI may become appropriate for more patients. However, at this time, it is unlikely that it will replace whole breast irradiation for most patients.​

Marshfield Clinic provides cancer care​ in a number of our centers. Your primary care doctor can refer you to the appropriate specialty and location. ​​​