Treatments and Technology

Intraoperative Breast Radiation Therapy


Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a technique that delivers your radiation treatment at the same time that you have your lumpectomy surgery.  Your radiation dose is delivered to your exposed tumor bed, while surrounding healthy tissue is moved aside.  The entire dose of radiation that is needed will be given in one treatment, which may take from 20 to 30 minutes. This technology is being used in Europe and Asia, and is in clinical trials in the United States.  Patients who participated in trials of breast IORT had low-grade, early-stage breast cancer, with no lymph node involvement and clear surgical margins from a lumptectomy. Most participants were women 40 years and older.  The advantages of IORT are fewer patient appointments and no skin affected by treatment.  The disadvantages of IORT include specific workflow during surgery must be carefully coordinated between surgeons and radiation oncologists.  There can also be a risk of infection.  It can be difficult to monitor dosage to the radiation site.  As the long term results are still pending, few patients have access to this technology currently.  Other cancers may benefit from IORT include breast cancer, rectal, head and neck, pancreatic, prostate, soft tissue sarcomas.


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