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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 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.

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