Dr. Harness explains if a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, do they have a choice in the type of radiation therapy treatment they receive.
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If you are having breast conservation - in layman’s terms, a lumpectomy - you almost certainly need radiation therapy. Historically, that has been radiation therapy of the entire breast, but more and more there are areas of partial breast radiation therapy in different ways of delivery in that therapy. The most classic right now is putting in a balloon catheter into the cavity that is left behind from the lumpectomy and completing the radiation therapy in five days instead of six weeks. I have been involved with that technology for a few years. We think in well selected low risk cases it is a good idea. Right now, there is a very large national trial called B-39 that is comparing whole breast radiation therapy with partial breast radiation therapy and also looking when the lymph nodes are positive versus, most of us have done this, when the lymph nodes are negative and so you want to inquire, you want to ask, "Am I a candidate for things less than necessarily having to have whole breast radiation therapy?" And, I always believe that it is important for patients to be involved in clinical trials, and patients should be asking about the B-39 clinical trial.