Upstate Cancer Center is now offering intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) for select patients with early-stage breast cancer. Breast intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) provides clinicians with the option to perform radiation therapy in the operating room at the time of surgery.
By delivering a complete, concentrated dose of radiation at the time of lumpectomy, this treatment offers select patients an innovative alternative to traditional external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) with valuable benefits including shorter treatment times, fewer side effects, reduced costs, added convenience and improved quality of life.
What is Breast IORT?
Breast IORT is an advanced, patient-friendly radiation treatment option. With IORT, a complete, concentrated dose of radiation is delivered in one treatment during surgery. Traditional external beam radiation therapy can involve daily radiation treatments for six to eight weeks. For some patients, IORT can reduce that to minutes, eliminating weeks of travel, disruption to your daily life, and emotional stress.
If you have been diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, you may have the option of completing both cancer surgery and radiation treatment at the same time with targeted, intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).
What are the benefits of IORT?
Studies of early-stage breast cancer treatment have shown that performing a lumpectomy by removing the cancerous tissue and a small rim of tissue surrounding it, plus radiation therapy, provides women the same survival outcomes as a total breast removal or mastectomy.
In recent years, significant advancements have been made in the detection and treatment of breast cancer. IORT offers patients a less-invasive, breast-conserving option with valuable benefits including:
- Targeted treatment
- Fewer side effects
- Reduced costs
- Increased convenience
- Improved quality of life
How does IORT treat breast cancer?
ORT uses a miniaturized x-ray source to deliver a full course of targeted radiation from inside the body, directly within the tumor cavity where the cancer is most likely to recur, carefully destroying cancer cells and reducing the risk of damage to nearby healthy tissue including the heart, lungs, and ribs. This helps minimize potential side effects which are more common with whole breast irradiation.
A discussion with your surgeon about breast IORT, as well as other treatment options, is necessary to determine if you are a candidate.
What should I expect?
Radiation oncologists and surgeons work together to administer breast IORT is in just five simple steps:
- A surgeon will remove the cancer while preserving the remaining breast tissue.
- Immediately after the cancer is removed, a small inflatable balloon is placed inside the surgical cavity.
- The miniaturized x-ray source is placed in the applicator and energized to deliver radiation for a prescribed amount of time.
- Radiation is delivered while medical personnel remain in the room.
- When the treatment is complete, the x-ray source is turned off. All devices are removed and the surgeon will complete the operation.