• Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

    Accelerated partial breast irradiation, or APBI, is a localized form of radiation treatment that is available to eligible patients at Lahey with early-stage breast cancer. APBI is delivered only to part of the breast, unlike external beam radiation, which is delivered to the whole breast after breast-conserving surgery, or lumpectomy. In addition, APBI treatment can be given over a shorter duration, thereby allowing patients to complete their treatment sooner than they would if external beam radiation were delivered.

    APBI can be performed using balloon catheter brachytherapy on eligible patients. Brachytherapy is the placement of radioactive sources in or near the tumor. Typically, this procedure is done one to four weeks after surgery. First, a specialized balloon catheter is inserted into the cavity left behind after removal of the tumor. Twice a day for five days, the balloon catheter is connected to a brachytherapy machine, also called a high-dose rate (HDR) afterloader. A 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, removed and then reinserted six hours later. At the end of the five days, the balloon catheter is deflated and removed.

    Usually, APBI treatments are given twice a day for five days. This is a time-saving benefit, particularly for women who live a great distance from a treatment facility. The localized nature of APBI is another important benefit, drastically reducing the risk of radiation exposure to healthy tissue and surrounding organs, such as the lungs and heart.

    APBI is best for women who: 

    • Are 45 years of age or older
    • Have small tumors of 3 cm or less that are confined to the breast
    • Have clear margins (no cancer cells are seen on the rim of tissue removed)
    • Have no lymph nodes involved

     Your physician can determine if you are a suitable candidate for APBI.


  • Make An Appointment

    (781) 744-8834 - Burl.
    (978) 538-4250 - Peabody
    (603) 421-2156 - Derry
  • Susan's Story: Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation

  • 2010 Breast Cancer Report

    Learn more about the patient-centered, high-quality approach to breast cancer care provided to patients diagnosed and treated at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.