Breast brachytherapy debuts at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre

Oncologists at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre are now performing an innovative breast cancer treatment that uses implanted radioactive seeds, each the size of a grain of rice, to eradicate remaining cancer cells weeks after the removal of a tumour.

Our donors raised $252,000 to purchase a special device that helps insert the radioactive seeds into various places around the former tumour site.

Doreen Thomson was the first Alberta patient to benefit from breast brachytherapy. Thomson was sore at first, but she was soon back at work, and then enjoyed a vacation with her husband. “I do feel like it’s getting better,” she says.

We invest on things that have a clear impact on patients- Breast Brachytherapy is a perfect example of how donor dollars have brought us an improved treatment and quality of life.  

Instead of enduring daily radiation treatment for weeks, requiring multiple hospital visits, Breast Brachytherapy is one-day and has reduced side effects.

During breast brachytherapy, doctors radiate only part of the breast by inserting 50 to 80 radioactive seeds,  into various places around the former tumour site. 

“This potentially may represent another advancement for breast cancer management,” says radiation oncologist Dr. Siraj Husain. “I think targeted treatment is what we’re going to move towards in everything we do.

“By not using external radiation beams, skin reaction may be reduced, as will the impact of radiation on other organs, including the lungs and the heart,” says Dr. Husain.

Thank you again to Alberta Cancer Foundation donors who have invested in innovations like breast brachytherapy that will power change and further accelerate discovery. Together, we are redefining the future of breast cancer in Alberta.