Breast Cancer Treatment

What is CyberKnife & How Can it Help Treat Breast Cancer?

External Beam Radiation Thearapy, including CyberKnife and Tomotherapy, is a non-invasive, painless adjunct treatment to improve surgical outcomes following mastectomy and lumpectomy. CyberKnife delivers radiation to the tumor with extreme precision and provides new hope for patients with breast cancer. Colorado Cyberknife has the latest technology and the region’s premier Radiosurgery team.

Latest Non-Invasive Treatment

  • Painless & Non-Invasive
  • Minimal To No Side Effects or Recovery Time
  • No Surgical Complications or Anesthesia
  • Targets Cancer with Extreme Precision
  • Saves Healthy Tissues and Structures

Latest News

Success Stories

Breast & Bone Cancer Treatment – Debra Tobey
Breast & Bone Cancer Treatment - Debra TobeyDebra Tobey, a…
Cancer Treatment While Pregnant – Renee Maxwell
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Patient Education

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Body Position Matters in Breast Cancer Radiation Treatment
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Study ties new gene to major breast cancer risk
Mutations in the gene can make breast cancer up to nine…

Clinical Publications

Type of Breast Reconstruction Impacts Radiation Therapy Outcomes
For breast cancer patients who underwent a mastectomy who…
Advances in APBI Treatments
The controversy surrounding accelerated partial breast…
Advanced Breast Cancer Rates Rising in Younger Women
Younger Women Have Rising Rate Of Advanced Breast Cancer,…

Breast Cancer Treatment Options

Your Colorado CyberKnife Oncology Specialist will discuss ALL of your breast cancer treatment options in order to recommend the best possible treatment for your case, whether it be radiation therapy or not.

The following options are currently practiced for patients with early stage breast cancer that is confined to the breast itself:


Radiosurgery is a medical procedure that allows non-invasive treatment of benign and malignant tumors and other brain pathologies, such as trigeminal neuralgia and some cases of epilepsy. The initial application of radiosurgery was in treatment of lesions in the brain, a technique also known as stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS). The compound word stereotactic is made up from Greek words: στερεος, which means solid, and τακτική (hinted τηχνη) which means “ability in disposition,” meaning “tactic” as used in military language. In fact radiosurgery is stereotactic only if the distribution of radiation beams is in three dimensions and not in two as in traditional radiotherapy. In addition to cancer, it has also been shown to be beneficial for the treatment of some non-cancerous conditions, including functional disorders such as arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) and trigeminal neuralgia… Read More about RadioSurgery

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a non-invasive procedure that uses radiation to kill breast cancer cells. Prior to treatment, CT and MRI images are taken to determine the exact location of the breast and surrounding structures. A treatment plan is then created to deliver the radiation to the breast and some of the surrounding tissue. It is necessary to irradiate some of the surrounding healthy tissue during this treatment because there is a significant amount of variability in the day-to-day location of the breast and because the breast can move inside the body from the effects of gas in the rectum and fluid in the bladder, which cause uncertainties in the exact position of the breast. Each treatment session lasts several minutes and is painless. Treatments are typically delivered on an outpatient basis, five days a week, for seven to 10 weeks. Published outcomes of breast cancer treatment by external beam radiation therapy include long-term survival of as high as 91%. Patients may experience more rectal complications compared to surgery (10-20% of patients), urinary toxicity has been reported in 10–15% of patients, and impotence has been reported in 20–64% of patients. Read More about Radiation Therapy


Brachytherapy is an invasive procedure that delivers radiation to the breast from a source that is implanted within the breast. There are two approaches to brachytherapy treatments, low dose rate (LDR) brachytherapy and high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy. Read More about Brachytherapy


Mastectomy is the removal of the whole breast. There are five different types of mastectomy: “simple” or “total” mastectomy, modified radical mastectomy, radical mastectomy, partial mastectomy, and subcutaneous (nipple-sparing) mastectomy. Read More about Mastectomy

“Simple” or “total” mastectomy

Simple or total mastectomy concentrates on the breast tissue itself:

  • The surgeon removes the entire breast.
  • The surgeon does not perform axillary lymph node dissection(removal of lymph nodes in the underarm area). Sometimes, however, lymph nodes are occasionally removed because they happen to be located within the breast tissue taken during surgery.
  • No muscles are removed from beneath the breast.
Simple Mastectomy

Simple Mastectomy


Who usually gets simple or total mastectomy?

A simple or total mastectomy is appropriate for women with multiple or large areas of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) and for women seeking prophylactic mastectomies — that is, breast removal in order to prevent any possibility of breast cancer occurring.

Modified radical mastectomy

Modified radical mastectomy

Modified radical mastectomy

Modified radical mastectomy involves the removal of both breast tissue and lymph nodes:

  • The surgeon removes the entire breast.
  • Axillary lymph node dissection is performed, during which levels I and II of underarm lymph nodes are removed (B and C in illustration).
  • No muscles are removed from beneath the breast.

Who usually gets a modified radical mastectomy?

Most people with invasive breast cancer who decide to have mastectomies will receive modified radical mastectomies so that the lymph nodes can be examined. Examining the lymph nodes helps to identify whether cancer cells may have spread beyond the breast.

Radical mastectomy

Radical mastectomy

Radical mastectomy

Radical mastectomy is the most extensive type of mastectomy:

  • The surgeon removes the entire breast.
  • Levels I, II, and III of the underarm lymph nodes are removed (B, C, and D in illustration).
  • The surgeon also removes the chest wall muscles under the breast.

Who usually gets a radical mastectomy?

Today, radical mastectomy is recommended only when the breast cancer has spread to the chest muscles under the breast. Although common in the past, radical mastectomy is now rarely performed because in most cases, modified radical mastectomy has proven to be just as effective and less disfiguring.

Partial mastectomy

Partial mastectomy is the removal of the cancerous part of the breast tissue and some normal tissue around it. While lumpectomy is technically a form of partial mastectomy, more tissue is removed in partial mastectomy than in lumpectomy.

Subcutaneous (“nipple-sparing”) mastectomy

During subcutaneous (“nipple-sparing”) mastectomy, all of the breast tissue is removed, but the nipple is left alone. Subcutaneous mastectomy is performed less often than simple or total mastectomy because more breast tissue is left behind afterwards that could later develop cancer. Some physicians have also reported that breast reconstruction after subcutaneous mastectomy can result in distortion and possibly numbness of the nipple. Because subcutaneous mastectomy is still an area of controversy among some physicians, your doctor may recommend simple or total mastectomy instead.


Lumpectomy is the removal of the breast tumor (the “lump”) and some of the normal tissue that surrounds it. Lumpectomy is a form of “breast-conserving” or “breast preservation” surgery. There are several names used for breast-conserving surgery: biopsy, lumpectomy, partial mastectomy, re-excision, quadrantectomy, or wedge resection. Technically, a lumpectomy is a partial mastectomy, because part of the breast tissue is removed. But the amount of tissue removed can vary greatly. Quadrantectomy, for example, means that roughly a quarter of your breast will be removed. Make sure you have a clear understanding from your surgeon about how much of your breast may be gone after surgery and what kind of scar you will have. Read More About Lumpectomy

LDR brachytherapy:

In LDR brachytherapy, small radioactive seeds about the size of a grain of rice are placed into the breast and remain there permanently. Typically, 40 to 100 seeds are placed into the breast through a needle, which is inserted through the skin. To relieve discomfort, the procedure is done using spinal anesthesia or general anesthesia. The procedure may require overnight hospitalization. The seeds emit low dose radiation to the breast over several weeks or months, and the patient is radioactive while the radiation is being emitted by the seeds. LDR brachytherapy results in a high rate of long-term survival, ranging from 85-94% in published reports. Patients may experience low rates of urinary and rectal side effects (3-5%), and sexual dysfunction has been reported in 20-50% of patients. In very rare situations, the seeds have become dislodged from the breast, enter the blood stream and migrate to other distant organs, but this does not typically pose health complications.

HDR brachytherapy:

HDR brachytherapy involves administration of high doses of radiation to the breast over a short period of time. Typically, an HDR brachytherapy procedure involves insertion of 12 to 20 hollow needles containing catheters, which are inserted through the skin and into the breast. Spinal anesthesia is usually given and the procedure often requires overnight hospitalization. After the catheters are in place, a CT scan and/or MRI are taken to confirm the exact location of the catheters, breast and surrounding tissues. A treatment plan is then created and a radioactive source is placed through the catheters to allow radiation to reach the breast. The radioactive source remains at a location in the breast for five to 15 minutes and is then removed. Often the treatment occurs over several days and the catheters are removed after the last treatment. Studies have shown that HDR brachytherapy results in excellent local control rates (89-98% in 3-6 years after treatment) with rates of urinary, rectal and sexual function side effects that approximate those obtained with LDR brachytherapy. Nevertheless, this procedure can be painful and difficult for patients to undergo because of its invasiveness.