IORT stands for Intraoperative Radiotherapy — a technique of delivering radiotherapy directly to the tissues surrounding the cancer (also known as tumour bed) during surgery. This technique greatly reduces radiation exposure and the length of treatment time.
This innovative therapy is administered at the time of lumpectomy, following cancer removal. INTRABEAM IORT is delivered using a miniaturised radiation device which is inserted into the lumpectomy incision.
Therapeutic radiation is then directed immediately and precisely right where it is needed most – the location where the cancer was removed. Localising the radiation inside the breast is effective because studies show that this is where cancer is most likely to recur. INTREABEAM IORT is delivered as a 30 – 45 minute treatment during surgery.
Is INTRABEAM IORT right for me?
INTRABEAM IORT can be given to all patients undergoing lumpectomy. Traditionally, external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) for lumpectomy are given as 15 fractions as a whole breast radiation and 8 fractions as a “boost” to the tumour bed.
What are the benefits of IORT?
- It allows direct radiation to the affected area while reducing some of the treatment side effects
- It avoids the time gap between surgery and external beam breast radiotherapy
- IORT is given as a single dose, while EBRT is given on a daily basis for 5 – 6.5 weeks. Therefore, the IORT treatment is shorter and avoids prolonged daily visits to the hospital
- There is a study that showed that IORT alone may provide better cosmetic outcomes
What are the possible side effects of IORT?
Patients might get very mild side effects. Usually there are similar to EBRT. Possible side effects:
- Redness and soreness of the skin
- Possible effect on wound healing (firmness of the scar)
- Seroma. Fluid collection where the tumour was removed. This is treated by either leaving it alone or draining the fluid using a needle.
- Serious wound complications are rare.
Can the tumour grow back?
Yes, there is always a risk of tumour growing back in the breast even if a mastectomy is performed. The results have shown that there is a similar chance, about 2% after 5 years of IORT or standard radiation, for a relapse of cancer.