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Same-day surgery, radiation treatment option now offered for women with early breast cancer

Same-day surgery, radiation treatment option now offered for women with early breast cancer

SYRACUSE, N.Y.-- Upstate Cancer Center is now offering a same-day surgery and radiation treatment option for women with early stage breast cancer. Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) administers a targeted, concentrated dose of radiation directly to the tumor cavity at the time of lumpectomy. This revolutionary therapy gives women the option to complete both cancer surgery and radiation treatment at the same time.

IORT is an innovative alternative to traditional external beam radiation therapy. Its benefits include significantly shorter treatment times, fewer side effects, reduced costs, added convenience and improved quality of life. Upstate Cancer Center is the only facility outside of the New York City area currently offering IORT.

For the patients who meet the criteria for IORT, their radiation visits are decreased from as many as 15 treatments over three weeks, down to one - at the same time as surgery.

“Normally after a lumpectomy you would wait four to six weeks for healing and then you would start three weeks of daily radiation,” said Upstate breast surgeon Dr. Lisa Lai. “Now it can all happen at the same time.”

IORT is a tremendous tool for Upstate doctors working with women who have breast cancer.

“It eliminates the need for multiple visits to radiation therapy centers, it eliminates some of the cost and it makes it less anxiety-provoking,” said Upstate breast surgeon Dr. Mary Ellen Greco. “One time, one visit, one treatment can make everything a lot more efficient.”

Studies of early-stage breast cancer treatment have shown that performing a lumpectomy by removing the cancerous tissue and a small rim of tissue surrounding it, plus radiation therapy, provides women the same survival outcomes as a total breast removal or mastectomy. In recent years, significant advancements have been made in the detection and treatment of breast cancer. IORT offers patients a less-invasive, breast-conserving option with valuable benefits.

“The patient is essentially recovering from the lumpectomy,” Lai said. IORT is “a nice, quick treatment to get them back on their feet and back to their daily routine and their lives.”

Radiation oncologists and surgeons work together to administer breast IORT in five steps:

1.     A surgeon removes the cancer while preserving the remaining breast tissue.

2.     Immediately after the cancer is removed, a small inatable balloon is placed inside the surgical cavity.

3.     The miniaturized X-ray source is placed in the applicator and energized to deliver radiation for a prescribed amount of time.

4.     Radiation is delivered while medical personnel remain in the room.

5.     When the treatment is complete, the X-ray source is turned off. All devices are removed and the surgeon completes the operation.

Upstate Cancer Center completed its first IORT treatments on July 23 with additional patients scheduled for August.

Upstate Cancer Center surgeons Mary Ellen Greco, MD, FACS; Kristine Keeney, MD; and Lisa M. Lai, MD, in conjunction with Radiation Oncology colleagues and the entire breast care team are working with patients to determine if IORT is the best option for their breast cancer treatment.

Patients interested in learning more about breast intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) can call 1-855-964-HOPE (4673) to schedule an appointment.

Caption: From left, Upstate Cancer Center surgeons Mary Ellen Greco, MD, FACS; Lisa M. Lai, MD; Kristine Keeney, MD; and radiation oncologist Anna Shapiro, MD, provide Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) procedure.