Discharge Instructions for Balloon Breast Brachytherapy

You had a procedure called balloon breast brachytherapy, an internal radiation treatment for breast cancer. A tube (called a catheter) was placed in your breast. At the end of the catheter is a small balloon filled with saltwater that is germ-free (sterile saline). This catheter and balloon will stay in place throughout your treatments (about a week). Part of the catheter sticks out of the skin and has a cap on the end. You will receive your radiation therapy through this catheter. You are not radioactive during your therapy. You will not expose others to radiation. Here’s what you need to know about home care.

Catheter site care

Here are steps you should follow:

  • Don’t remove the cap from the catheter.

  • Don’t touch the wound closure tapes that are over the cut (incision) on your breast. Let them fall off on their own.

  • Wear the special bra you were given at all times, including when you are sleeping. The bra supports your breast and helps keep the catheter in place.

  • Clean the catheter site each day following your treatments. Call your healthcare provider if you have any questions about cleaning the site. Here are general steps you can follow:

    • Use sterile saline solution to clean the site.

    • Apply an antibiotic cream on the site.

    • Cover the site with a sterile gauze pad.

    • Note if you have clear, pink drainage from the site. If so, you may need to change the dressing more often.

Other home care

Other suggestions include:

  • Perform your normal activities as you feel able. If you are receiving brachytherapy after lumpectomy, follow your healthcare provider’s instructions about what you can and can’t do.

  • Don’t carry or lift anything over 5 pounds with the arm on the treatment side.

  • Take all medicines exactly as directed.

  • While the catheter is in place, take sponge baths and wash your hair over a sink. Don’t shower, soak in a tub or pool, or do anything that causes the treated breast to get wet.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or chills

  • Sudden and large amount of drainage from catheter site (may be red, pink, or clear)

  • Breast redness and pain

  • Pus-like or bad-smelling drainage from the catheter site

  • The cap comes off the catheter

  • Cough or shortness of breath

  • Chest pain

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Pain that doesn’t go away, especially if it’s always in the same place

  • New or unusual lumps, bumps, or swelling

Be sure you know how to get help any time you have problems or questions, including after office hours, on weekends, and on holidays.