State-of-the-Art, Efficient Breast Cancer Radiation Treatment
Our Brachytherapy Radiation Therapy technology offers certain patients the possibility of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). This highly advanced system delivers the entire course of radiation therapy in the operating room at the time of surgery. Rose Medical Center has the leading IORT in the United States.
IORT often eliminates the need for traditional daily outpatient treatments that could last five to eight weeks.
About Breast Cancer Radiation
For patients with early stage breast cancer, a lumpectomy is often included in the treatment plan. This procedure allows the surgeon to remove the cancerous tumor while conserving as much of the healthy breast tissue as possible. A lumpectomy is performed in conjunction with a course of radiation to ensure that all cancerous cells are destroyed. Typically, an aggressive schedule of radiation treatments are scheduled after the lumpectomy. Treatments are given every weekday for five to eight weeks. The side effects include excessive fatigue and a skin burn similar to a significant sunburn. In recent years, some patients have been able to undergo an accelerated schedule-- twice a day for five consecutive weekdays.
The IORT Advantage
Now, eligible patients* at Rose Medical Center have the option of radiation treatment at the time of surgery. During the lumpectomy, the surgeon first ensures the cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Once that has been verified, a balloon is placed with careful precision into the lumpectomy cavity. A mini X-ray source is passed into a balloon and the machine runs for seven to 10 minutes. Because it is a lower-energy X-ray, medical providers may stay in the room with the patient.
When the machine completes its run, it is removed and the operation is completed. At the end of the procedure, the patient has not only completed a lumpectomy, but also an entire course of radiation. In addition, the side effects include only mildly "pink" skin instead of the significant burn and fatigue associated with traditional treatment.
*Eligible patients typically include those over the age of 40 with a single focus of cancer (invasive ductal carcinoma). Talk to your physician about eligibility.
Learn How IORT Works
Dr. Barbara Schwartzberg explains how IORT works during treatment.