Not all patients who choose lumpectomy comply with the recommended follow up treatment because of factors including time, money, distance and access to a treatment facility. Neglecting follow up radiation after lumpectomy can increase the risk of cancer recurrence. Intraoperative radiation significantly cuts treatment time and allows women to complete radiation and surgery at the same time.
"By eliminating the geographic and time constraints of traditional radiotherapy, intraoperative radiation can make breast conservation surgery a realistic option for more women," said Kevin Bethke, MD, surgical oncologist at Northwestern Memorial and assistant professor of clinical surgery at the Feinberg School. "Active women with busy jobs can choose lumpectomy and comply with the recommended radiation therapy, but limit the impact the treatment has on their lives."
Along with offering an expedited treatment schedule, intraoperative radiation therapy also has the potential for better cosmetic outcomes, including less scarring, and fewer side effects compared to those associated with WBRT. Skin reactions, including redness, rashes, and irritation, as well as more severe complications including fatigue, swelling, tissue stiffness and scarring are sometimes associated with traditional radiation therapy.
While initial findings indicate single-dose radiation is as effective as WBRT in limiting recurrence of breast cancer in selected patients, it is not an option for every breast cancer diagnosis. Currently, only women with early stage breast cancer are considered as candidates for intraoperative radiation therapy.
"This isn't a replacement for traditional breast cancer treatment, but for the right candidate it may be an attractive alternative," said Small. "This has potential to expand access to radiation therapy allowing more women to comply with the recommended course of tr
|Contact: Megan McCann|
Northwestern Memorial Hospital