Balloon brachytherapy for breast cancer prove that it works? Or, prove that it doesn't?

Vinay Prasad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Balloon breast brachytherapy is a catheter-based technique to deliver high local concentration of radiation following breast-sparing surgery. Although this technique is logically appealing - providing more directed radiation to sites at high risk of local failure - there remains little empirical support that this intervention is non-inferior to external beam radiotherapy, a well-established standard. Additionally, observational studies suggest that balloon brachytherapy is associated with high rates of local complications, and higher rates of subsequent mastectomy, a marker of local failure. Here, I explore regulatory and clinical considerations that lead to the widespread adoption of breast brachytherapy. I argue that the therapy spread before its efficacy was confirmed. Breast brachytherapy illustrates ongoing complexities in the approval of novel devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1353-1357
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Cancer Research and Clinical Oncology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Balloon brachytherapy
  • Evidence-based medicine
  • Mammosite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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