What is IORT?
Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) delivers a concentrated dose of radiation therapy to a tumor bed during surgery. This technology may help kill microscopic disease, reduce radiation treatment times or provide an added radiation "boost."
With IORT, a radiation oncologist delivers a large dose of radiation in a single treatment session, while also working to preserve more healthy tissue. This helps to reduce side effects and the need to return to the hospital for radiation treatments.
IORT may offer some of the following advantages:
- Efficient dosing. 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 radiation therapy requires a recovery period after surgery, which leaves microscopic disease in the body longer.
- Helps spare healthy tissues and organs. During IORT, a radiation oncologist applies a precise radiation dose while shielding healthy tissues or structures, such as the skin, that may be damaged using other techniques. This allows a higher radiation dose to be delivered to the tumor bed, while helping to spare normal surrounding tissues. The goal is to also protect critical organs within the radiation field, such as the lungs or heart.
- Shortened treatment times. IORT may help reduce the need for additional 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 radiation therapy following surgery may receive a boost of radiation during IORT, giving them time to recover from surgery before continuing their radiation treatments. These patients may also experience fewer complications.
A patient must be a surgical candidate in order to be eligible for IORT. This treatment is generally reserved for individuals with early-stage disease.
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