Innovations in Breast Cancer: Intraoperative Radiation Therapy Update

Previous posts have informed our readers about an innovative breast cancer therapy, intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), which became available at the Breast Center during the summer of 2013. New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of the first institutions in the New York metropolitan area to offer IORT, which entails a single dose of radiation therapy that is administered immediately after lumpectomy.

In contrast to traditional radiation therapy, IORT offers important benefits to women undergoing surgery for breast cancer. According to Sheldon M. Feldman, MD, Chief of the Section of Breast Surgery, conventional radiation is delivered to the entire breast, and patients must come to the hospital five days per week for about six weeks. IORT delivers a single higher dose of radiation directly to the area where the tumor was removed. Both conventional radiation and IORT have comparable rates in reducing the risk of cancer recurrence, according to the randomized multicenter trial of IORT called TARGIT A, but IORT clearly saves patients a tremendous amount of time by avoiding daily trips to the hospital for six weeks. It is also far less expensive than conventional radiation. TARGIT A also found that IORT causes less skin toxicity than conventional radiation.

IORT is available to post-menopausal women who undergo lumpectomy to remove breast tumors less than two centimeters in size.

As of early February 2014, the breast center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia has treated 18 patients and all have done well, according to Dr. Feldman.

Learn more about IORT and other advances in treating breast cancer at

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