Partial Breast Irradiation

Partial breast irradiation is a minimally invasive method of delivering radiation therapy to breast cancer patients who have recently undergone a lumpectomy. With this technology, breast cancer can be treated in five days instead of six to seven weeks. Until recently, whole-breast irradiation was the standard treatment for women after having a lumpectomy.
What Are the Advantages of Partial Breast Irradiation?
Partial breast irradiation is able to deliver radiation therapy at higher doses to a more precise location of the breast. With partial-breast irradiation, you are able to receive radiation in as few as five days versus six weeks (as was the case with whole breast irradiation). Partial-breast irradiation also minimizes radiation exposure to the entire breast, skin, ribs and lungs.  It has been shown that partial-breast irradiation will lower the chances of breast cancer recurring.


How Does Partial Breast Irradiation Work?
After the surgical lumpectomy is completed, a small balloon-like catheter is inserted into the lumpectomy cavity. This catheter remains in place during radiation planning and for the duration of the five-day treatment course. During the actual treatment process, the catheter is attached to a high-dose rate machine that delivers radiation directly through the catheter to the tumor site and the area immediately surrounding the cavity.
Treatment occurs twice a day for five days. At the end of the treatment course, the balloon is deflated and permanently removed. Partial breast irradiation is becoming a suitable and convenient option due to the reduction in overall treatment time.


Multidisciplinary collaboration within the Department of Radiation Oncology and with other institutions results in scientific research that is translated to the outstanding clinical care we provide. In addition, our standard of care is routinely assessed and updated to ensure that we continue to offer the most effective services to our patients.

Learn more about the variety of innovative radiation therapies offered at Houston Methodist.