Brachytherapy with catheters or regular rads

oksheri
oksheri Member Posts: 1
edited March 2014 in Breast Cancer #1
First time on this site. I had a lumpectomy tumor size <1 cm, clear margins, no lymph node involvement stage 1. Have been given the choise of either regular 7 weeks of rads or the brachytherapy treatment with insertion of catheters. I have only found one other person that has had this treatment to talk to and need more information from actual participants to make an informed dscision. I told my Rad Dr. I would make this decision last week but here I am and I still can't make up my mind.
I work two jobs and was hoping to work both through my rads. I really feel a little pressure from the Dr. at my hospital for they have a study going on for the newer treatment but keep telling me its my choice. Evidently I don't feel comfortable about choosing and therefore have stalled out.
I have been on armidix for two weeks now with minimal SE's and am feeling really lucky. I have asked my doctors office if other women in the study would talk to me but so far no one has called me. So is there anyone here that can give me some first hand insight?

Comments

  • Ltalcott
    Ltalcott Member Posts: 119
    Welcome
    Sorry I can't add any insight. Because I had mastectomies, I didn't need radiation.

    But surely there's someone here who can answer your questions.

    This discussion board is a great support. I'd be really hesitant to make a decision without talking to someone who's gone through the treatment.

    Lisa
  • Ltalcott
    Ltalcott Member Posts: 119
    search the board
    I just typed in Brachytherapy to the search engine and about 10 discussion threads came back. Not all have the word in the thread name, so they might only be on that topic tangentially.

    Lisa
  • mimivac
    mimivac Member Posts: 2,143
    Welcome, Oksheri
    Is brachytherapy the one where a pump is inserted for radiation release? If so, I asked my oncologist about that and she doesn't believe it's a proven method yet. She wants me to do regular old radiation. It may be different for you, though. I have stage 2a, hormone negative BC, so my case is a little more advanced and there are fewer therapies available so I have to maximize everything...

    I don't know what to tell you. On one hand, I am all for studies that help advance our treatment options. On the other, you should do what is absolutely best, treatment-wise, for your situation...

    Mimi
  • Christmas Girl
    Christmas Girl Member Posts: 3,682 Member
    Hello, oksheri!
    Welcome to the group, though sorry for the reason! I can't speak directly to your question. This type of radiation therapy was just barely beginning to become available when I was near finishing "traditional" (i.e., daily) rads, several years ago.

    We have to make so very many decisions along the way.

    I guess if I were in your shoes right now, I'd primarily consider: is one method vs. the other more effective at reducing your own personal risk of recurrence? If both methods provide the same effectiveness; then, I think it's a lifestyle question - which method fits your schedule the best, with the least amount of disruption?

    The women in the study may be protected by some sort of confidentiality restrictions?

    Good luck to you, for finding the way to make this important decision.

    Kind regards, Susan
  • Christmas Girl
    Christmas Girl Member Posts: 3,682 Member
    mimivac said:

    Welcome, Oksheri
    Is brachytherapy the one where a pump is inserted for radiation release? If so, I asked my oncologist about that and she doesn't believe it's a proven method yet. She wants me to do regular old radiation. It may be different for you, though. I have stage 2a, hormone negative BC, so my case is a little more advanced and there are fewer therapies available so I have to maximize everything...

    I don't know what to tell you. On one hand, I am all for studies that help advance our treatment options. On the other, you should do what is absolutely best, treatment-wise, for your situation...

    Mimi

    Mimi...
    Yes. And seems 1 week's worth of treatment, instead of 5, etc. However, that week/five days can be sorta "all day" because there's a portion early in the day, and then again later. Not sure if patient is allowed to leave the treatment center/hospital in between (i.e., "radioactive"). At least from what I've heard/read about it.

    Kind regards, Susan
  • Jeanne D
    Jeanne D Member Posts: 1,867
    Hi, I am currently still having "regular" or "booster" radiation treatments. ( not sure i would call them regular..lol ) I don't know a lot about the brachytherapy with catheters. Your radiation oncologist should be the one to tell you and inform you of everything. That is their expert field. So, write your questions down and ask them. Then, make the best choice for YOU. I don't know, like I said, but, I thought you had to stay in the hospital for the 5 day treatment of brachytherapy because you are radioactive. But, I could be wrong. On the other hand, I know a lot of women that work during the radiation treatments. They don't take long..just a few minutes. The main drawback is you tire very easily, so, you have to get lots of sleep. Some get them first thing in the morning or the last thing at night..whatever would work with your schedule. Hope this helped.
  • seof
    seof Member Posts: 819 Member
    don't know
    I know nothing about the newer procedure. I agree with the advice that you should write down questions and ask your Dr. I would ask if either will reduce chance of recurrence over the other. Also ask about side effects, how long daily treatments last with each, how much disruption of your daily life with each, check with your insurance to see if they will cover either one...any other questions you have. Then make a choice and get it done. I had "regular" radiation. For me it was not too bad. The skin turned red and blistered like a bad sunburn, and the area felt tight for a while, but it was quite "doable". I kept working full time and was not as tired with radiation as with chemo. I do not like waiting and trying to decide. Once your decision is made, I hope you will be at peace about it.

    Take care of yourself. seof.
  • peki
    peki Member Posts: 1
    seof said:

    don't know
    I know nothing about the newer procedure. I agree with the advice that you should write down questions and ask your Dr. I would ask if either will reduce chance of recurrence over the other. Also ask about side effects, how long daily treatments last with each, how much disruption of your daily life with each, check with your insurance to see if they will cover either one...any other questions you have. Then make a choice and get it done. I had "regular" radiation. For me it was not too bad. The skin turned red and blistered like a bad sunburn, and the area felt tight for a while, but it was quite "doable". I kept working full time and was not as tired with radiation as with chemo. I do not like waiting and trying to decide. Once your decision is made, I hope you will be at peace about it.

    Take care of yourself. seof.

    Brachytherapy
    I had the catheters inserted in August 2009. This was to be a 9 day procedure. The first day they put 20 catheters THROUGH my breast, not INTO my breast like the info on the internet says. The second day they map where the radiation will go. The third day I had 2 treatments, hours apart. My pain meds were changed that day as I could not tolerate the pain with this procedure. The change in meds did not help at all, so on day 4 I asked that the catheters be removed at the end of that day's two treatments. My radiologist would not allow me to have the two treatments that day. She insisted I have the catheters pulled immediately. I am still very upset by this, and the fact that I could not find ANY pictures of this procedure on the internet, only diagrams. I have pictures of what I looked like the day of the insertion, the day of the mapping and the day I had them pulled if anyone cares to see them. I feel ANYONE considering this form of radiation should 1) make sure you see pics or a video of this procedure; 2)Speak with someone who has had this procedure done.
    There are several kinds of brachytherapy-I was not a candidate for SAVI as my surgeon did not leave an opening. Had I made it through the whole treatment, day 5-6 were weekend days and the teaching hospital did not work on weekends, which would have left me in agony for those days. Then days 7,8,9 would have been two treatments (6 hours apart) with the tubes removed after the last treatment.
  • elm3544
    elm3544 Member Posts: 748
    editing-didn't realize this was an older post..
    I had both brachy and external rads. I was told I was a perfect candidate for Brachy due to the location of the tumors, the size of the tumors and size of the breast. It was explained to me that it was much better to have the radiation only kill the tumor cavity cells as opposed to the entire breast and surrounding area. I would be avoiding possible burning and blistering. They told me that external radiation can cause the breast to shrink and harden whereas the brachy does not harm the uneffected area of the breast.
    I agreed that it would be better to have 10 treatments internally as opposed to 30 or so external treatments, leaving me with possible side effects mentioned.
    I had the Mammosite catheter installed on a Monday and was all set for treatment the following day. The oncologist told me it did not fit properly and a portion of the cavity would not receive the radiation. They removed the mammosite catheter and inserted a savi catheter. The following day they began the radiation but told me that again the entire cavity was not receiving treatment, therefore I would still need external radiation. I had 6 treatments and the catheter was removed on Friday afternoon.

    I just completed 26 rounds of external radiation and my brachytherapy was considered my boosts.


    When you have Brachytherapy you will wear a sports bra 24/7 and you can not shower until after the cathater is removed. They change the dressing on the entry site at each visit. The good thing about it is that it is over much faster. The downside is the fact that you have to have yet another incision, you have to have this device inside you and sticking out of you. You can't shower and have to wear that bra. You also have to go twice a day. The great thing is if the device fits properly into your tumor cavity, its done and over quickly and no burning. When you have external radiation you may get burns blisters and a rash the last week or so. It may be uncomfortable or painful to wear a bra or certain clothing. I am not sure how long it takes to heal, I just finished 5 days ago.
  • minermom
    minermom Member Posts: 8
    elm3544 said:

    editing-didn't realize this was an older post..
    I had both brachy and external rads. I was told I was a perfect candidate for Brachy due to the location of the tumors, the size of the tumors and size of the breast. It was explained to me that it was much better to have the radiation only kill the tumor cavity cells as opposed to the entire breast and surrounding area. I would be avoiding possible burning and blistering. They told me that external radiation can cause the breast to shrink and harden whereas the brachy does not harm the uneffected area of the breast.
    I agreed that it would be better to have 10 treatments internally as opposed to 30 or so external treatments, leaving me with possible side effects mentioned.
    I had the Mammosite catheter installed on a Monday and was all set for treatment the following day. The oncologist told me it did not fit properly and a portion of the cavity would not receive the radiation. They removed the mammosite catheter and inserted a savi catheter. The following day they began the radiation but told me that again the entire cavity was not receiving treatment, therefore I would still need external radiation. I had 6 treatments and the catheter was removed on Friday afternoon.

    I just completed 26 rounds of external radiation and my brachytherapy was considered my boosts.


    When you have Brachytherapy you will wear a sports bra 24/7 and you can not shower until after the cathater is removed. They change the dressing on the entry site at each visit. The good thing about it is that it is over much faster. The downside is the fact that you have to have yet another incision, you have to have this device inside you and sticking out of you. You can't shower and have to wear that bra. You also have to go twice a day. The great thing is if the device fits properly into your tumor cavity, its done and over quickly and no burning. When you have external radiation you may get burns blisters and a rash the last week or so. It may be uncomfortable or painful to wear a bra or certain clothing. I am not sure how long it takes to heal, I just finished 5 days ago.

    Thank you elm
    I'm scheduled for a lumpectomy and removal of the sentinel node Monday, Nov. 30. My surgeon plans to insert a temporary catheter at the time of surgery pending pathology reports. If everything is clear, I'll have the permanent catheter inserted Wednesday, Dec. 2, then a CAT scan Dec. 3 to make sure I'm ready for treatments.

    The oncologist plans on using Zoft Brachytherapy beginning Dec. 7 for 5 days, 8:30am and 3:30pm every day. Each morning I'll have a CAT scan to be sure the balloon is still in its proper place. He didn't say what would happen if it had moved, never thought to ask that question! Once I'm done with radiation I face chemotherapy because I'm a triple negative.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It's nice to get feedback, positive as well as negative. I'll be sure to post how I do.

    God bless.
  • elm3544
    elm3544 Member Posts: 748
    minermom said:

    Thank you elm
    I'm scheduled for a lumpectomy and removal of the sentinel node Monday, Nov. 30. My surgeon plans to insert a temporary catheter at the time of surgery pending pathology reports. If everything is clear, I'll have the permanent catheter inserted Wednesday, Dec. 2, then a CAT scan Dec. 3 to make sure I'm ready for treatments.

    The oncologist plans on using Zoft Brachytherapy beginning Dec. 7 for 5 days, 8:30am and 3:30pm every day. Each morning I'll have a CAT scan to be sure the balloon is still in its proper place. He didn't say what would happen if it had moved, never thought to ask that question! Once I'm done with radiation I face chemotherapy because I'm a triple negative.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It's nice to get feedback, positive as well as negative. I'll be sure to post how I do.

    God bless.

    Hi minermom
    Good luck with

    Hi minermom
    Good luck with the brachy. I had the ct scans before each treatment also. I don't think the cathater moved on me, but my tumor cavity is not shaped exactly the same as the balloon was so it missed a small area. I hope that is not the case with you and that your treatments are sucessful!
    With brachy you will spend less days in treatment, allowing you to finish all your treatment faster! I'll be watching for your updates!