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Frequently Asked Questions

I just found out I have breast cancer. Do I need a mastectomy?

There are alternative breast cancer treatments to mastectomy (total breast removal). In the past 20 years, significant advances have been made in the detection and treatment of breast cancer, which makes "breast conserving therapy" possible. If you have an early-stage breast cancer (Stage 0, 1 or 2), you may be a candidate for Breast Conserving Therapy, which is defined as a lumpectomy (removal of the cancerous tissue and a small margin of normal, healthy tissue) followed by radiation therapy, which will destroy any cancer cells that may remain behind. The good news is that long-term studies have shown that for early-stage cancers, Breast Conserving Therapy has the same survival outcomes as mastectomy.7, 8

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What is Breast Conserving Therapy?

Breast Conserving Therapy is the removal of the cancerous tissue and a small rim of normal breast tissue surrounding it (lumpectomy) followed by radiation therapy (whole breast or partial breast irradiation), which can kill any cancerous cells that may be left behind, and has been proven to help keep cancer from coming back in the breast.

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Why do I need radiation therapy if the cancer has been removed?

After the cancerous tissue is removed, radiation therapy is used to help keep the cancer from coming back in the breast, especially at the site where the cancer was removed. The radiation can kill any cancer cells that may remain after the lumpectomy. Radiation therapy uses high-energy beams of radiation focused on the breast where the cancer occurred. This energy disrupts the growth of the cells. Cancer cells are especially vulnerable to radiation, because unlike normal, healthy cells, cancer cells can’t repair themselves, which helps keep the cancer from coming back in the breast.

To learn more about radiation therapy, click here.

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Is the MammoSite Radiation Therapy System effective?

The MammoSite Radiation Therapy System can be an effective treatment option for early-stage breast cancer patients.

5-year Initial Clinical Trial Results (N=43):6

  • No local recurrences
  • 83.3% of the patients had good/excellent cosmetic results
  • 100% of patients in the initial clinical trial would recommend MammoSite to a friend or family member.
  • 100% of patients in the initial clinical trial would use MammoSite again if they had to do it over.

Many women who have been treated with MammoSite Therapy are part of our Voices of MammoSite program. To hear their stories, click here.

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Does MammoSite Therapy hurt? What are the side effects?

Clinical studies of MammoSite Therapy have shown it to be well tolerated, with mild side effects that generally last for a short period of time.5 Side effects that occurred most frequently include redness, bruising and mild breast pain. These did not occur in all patients. These are all common side effects of breast surgery and/or radiation therapy and usually go away after a short period of time.

The MammoSite balloon catheter is secured with gauze to the side of the breast so that you can go about your normal activities in between treatments. Most women feel little or no discomfort during insertion of the catheter, during treatment, or during removal of the catheter. There can be some drainage that occurs from the catheter insertion site, which is normal; this should also go away after a short period of time.

You should talk to your doctor about all of the risks and benefits of your treatment.

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Is MammoSite 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy covered by insurance?

MammoSite 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy is covered by Medicare as well as a majority of private insurers. Check with your insurance company for details.

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Will my family be exposed to radiation during my treatment?

No. There is no radiation source in your body between treatments.

During 10 treatments over 5 days, a tiny source of radiation, called a "seed" is placed in the MammoSite balloon and therapeutic radiation is delivered to the area surrounding the lumpectomy cavity. After each radiation treatment, the "seed" is removed. The MammoSite balloon catheter itself has no radioactive material.

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Will I lose my hair?

Hair loss is not typically associated with radiation therapy.

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How many women have been treated with MammoSite 5-Day Targeted Radiation Therapy?

Over 50,000 women in the United States have been treated with MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy4.

Many women who have been treated with MammoSite Therapy are part of our Voices of MammoSite program. To hear their stories, click here.

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Are women satisfied with MammoSite Therapy?

  • 100% of patients in the initial clinical trial would recommend MammoSite Therapy to a friend or family member.6
  • 100% of patients in the initial clinical trial would use MammoSite Therapy if they had to do it over.6

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How do I know if MammoSite 5-day Targeted Radiation Therapy is right for me?

Your doctors will carefully evaluate your cancer to determine if you are a candidate for MammoSite 5-day Targeted Radiation Therapy. The American Society of Breast Surgeons, American Brachytherapy Society, American Society for Radiation Oncology and the American College of Radiation Oncology recommend this treatment for early-stage breast cancers that are 3 cm (about the size of a walnut) or smaller, with limited or no spread of cancer to the lymph nodes9,10,11,12. To see the full Society Guidelines on Patient Selection, click here.

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What if my doctor doesn’t recommend MammoSite 5-day Targeted Radiation Therapy?

If you have an early-stage breast cancer (Stage 0, 1 or 2), with limited or no lymph node involvement, you may be a candidate for MammoSite Targeted Radiation Therapy. Check with your doctor on how your cancer fits with the Society Guidelines on Patient Selection for MammoSite. To find a MammoSite provider in your area, click here.

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