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Partial Breast Irradiation (PBI)

If breast cancer locally recurs in the breast after lumpectomy surgery, it typically recurs in the same place it originally grew. Partial breast irradiation (PBI) involves treating only a portion of the breast; the site of the lumpectomy plus the surrounding tissue. Since a smaller volume of breast tissue is irradiated, the number of times a patient must have radiation is reduced, making it easier on patients and their families.

Current research suggests that PBI produces low local recurrence rates that are comparable to the recurrence rates of whole breast irradiation. Further, the cosmetic results have been excellent for most patients, making it a valuable option for patients with smaller tumors.

At the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, our radiation oncologists are currently conducting a clinical trial on PBI.  We constantly strive to be on the forefront of effective treatments that eliminate the cancer, while preserving as much of the natural look and feel of a woman’s breast as possible.

There are two types of partial breast irradiation:

  1. Radiation lasts for six weeks but less of the breast and surrounding tissue is irradiated. By delivering the radiation to less of the body, a woman’s healthy tissue and organs are protected.
  2. Radiation lasts for three weeks, but a larger surface of the body is radiated.

Your radiation oncologist will determine which course of partial breast irradiation is right for you, based on certain factors.