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Intraoperative Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer

UCI Health breast cancer patients undergoing a lumpectomy to remove a tumor now may also be able to get a single, targeted dose of radiation therapy during the surgery.

The treatment, called intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT), may spare some women the need for traditional radiotherapy, which usually involves radiation treatments five days a week for a month or more, often with side effects. External beam radiation treatment also can affect nearby tissues and organs.

UCI Health breast cancer specialists already use the Margin Probe® system, which allows a surgeon to ensure that a tumor is completely. With IORT, the team can immediately deliver a precise dose of X-rays directed at the tumor site to destroy any lingering microscopic cancer cells during the same procedure.

UCI Health Pacific Breast Care Center is the first in California to pair the MarginProbe® system with intraoperative radiotherapy, using the Zeiss Intrabeam® system, which has been tested in studies of more than 8,000 patients. Study participants who received IORT had about the same survival rate as those who received whole-breast external beam radiation.

Benefits of IORT

  • The needed dose of radiation can be delivered at one time, during surgery, which allows the patient to complete treatment sooner.
  • In IORT, the dose is targeted at the precise area where the risk of recurrence is greatest.
  • Nearby tissues and organs, such as the heart and lungs, receive less exposure to radiation than in traditional radiation therapy.
  • Fewer side effects, including rashes and skin irritation, than are commonly experienced during traditional radiation therapy.
  • If another breast tumor is found in the future, the patient can undergo another lumpectomy.
  • IORT costs significantly less than external beam radiotherapy.

Who should have IORT?

Breast cancer patients who are candidates for a lumpectomy and radiation therapy may also be good candidates for IORT. In general, these patients:

  • Are in early stages of breast cancer
  • Are post-menopausal
  • Have small tumors

IORT may not be appropriate for all breast cancers.

For more information about IORT, call the UCI Health Pacific Breast Care Center in Costa Mesa at 949-515-3544 or the UCI Health Breast Health Center in Orange at 714-456-8000.

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