One time treatment for breast cancer
Imagine being able to complete radiation therapy for breast cancer during your surgery to remove a tumor. That dream is now reality.
With whole-breast radiation treatment, therapy is administered five times per week for as many as six and a half weeks. IORT, on the other hand, delivers to patients a 20- to 30-minute targeted single-dose radiation treatment during surgery after removal of the tumor. This treatment may eliminate the need, or reduce the time for external beam radiation therapy.
“For many women, the challenge with breast conserving surgery is the seven weeks of radiation therapy they need following surgery,” says Dr. Barry Rosen, breast surgeon at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill. “By using intraoperative radiation, patients can choose to have a lumpectomy but still receive the recommended dose of radiation therapy without disrupting their day-to- day lives.”
IORT offers other advantages as well. “We choose to use IORT due to the positive impact it can have on our patients’ lives,” says Dr. James Ruffer, radiation oncologist at Good Shepherd Hospital. “In addition to the convenience of a one-time treatment, this system also shows additional benefits including less irritation of healthy breast tissue, minimized exposure to the chest cavity and underlying organs and fewer skin reactions such as redness, rashes and irritation,” he says.
Both doctors caution, however, that not every patient is a candidate for this procedure. “The best candidates are those women diagnosed in the early stages of breast cancer with smaller tumors,” says Dr. Rosen. “In addition, 15 percent of the time patients may still need external beam radiation but for a shorter time frame.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.