Breast Cancer Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)
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Intraoperative Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
At CTCA, our approach to breast cancer treatment has always been to identify the most powerful and least invasive treatment options, so patients can preserve as much of their breast as possible and maintain their quality of life while fighting cancer.
CTCA has added intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to our state-of-the-art radiation oncology program. IORT allows you to receive radiation directly to the tumor site during breast cancer surgery.
Typically, standard breast cancer radiation therapy involves five days a week of treatment, for a total of five to six weeks. With IORT, our radiation oncologists can deliver a similar dose of radiation in a single session, while also preserving higher amounts of healthy breast tissue. This helps to reduce side effects and minimize the time spent going back and forth to the hospital for radiation treatments and/or breast prosthesis.
Advantages of Breast Cancer IORT
Intraoperative radiation therapy is a multidisciplinary treatment option that offers significant medical and quality of life benefits, including:
- Maximum effect, while minimizing recurrence. IORT delivers a concentrated dose of radiation to a tumor site immediately after a tumor is removed, helping to destroy the microscopic tumor cells that may be left behind. The tumor site is typically at high risk for recurrence and traditional breast cancer radiation therapy requires a recovery period after surgery, which leaves microscopic disease in the body for longer.
- Spares healthy tissues and organs. During breast cancer IORT, a precise radiation dose is applied while shielding healthy tissues or structures, such as the skin, that could be damaged using other techniques. This allows a higher radiation dose to be delivered to the tumor bed, while sparing normal surrounding breast tissues. Critical organs within the radiation field, such as the lungs and heart, can also be protected.
- Shortened treatment times. IORT helps patients finish treatment and get back to their lives quicker by reducing the need for additional breast cancer radiation therapy, which is typically given over five to six weeks. The IORT treatment itself takes about four to five minutes.
- A "boost" for traditional radiation patients. Patients who must receive additional breast radiation therapy following surgery can receive a boost of radiation during IORT. After they have recovered from the surgical procedure, they can continue with their radiation treatments, with typically fewer complications.
This innovative therapy also gives more breast cancer patients the option to undergo nipple-sparing surgeries. This means they can receive the medical benefit of a full mastectomy, while leaving the nipple and areola fully intact.
In addition, breast cancer patients who undergo intraoperative radiation therapy are potentially able to have another lumpectomy followed by radiation. This is a promising option for patients who have a recurrence, or if a new tumor develops in a different part of the breast.
A patient must be a surgical candidate in order to be eligible for breast cancer IORT. Also, this treatment is generally reserved for individuals with early stage disease.
IORT at CTCA
CTCA at Eastern Regional Medical Center, CTCA at Southwestern Regional Medical Center and CTCA at Midwestern Regional Medical Center are among only a handful of institutions in the United States to offer IORT, using the Novac7 mobile linear accelerator, the latest technology from Italy-based InTech, LLC.
The Novac7 is more agile than other mobile IORT units, making it possible for CTCA radiation oncologists to use IORT to reach more areas of the body and treat more disease types. This type of breast cancer radiation therapy is also significantly shorter than traditional options, taking about four to five minutes, compared to up to 15 minutes with other machines.
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