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 identified. 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 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.