Technology | August 13, 2007

One-Step Breast Cancer Treatment Delivers Radiation During Surgery

Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) breast cancer specialists in Toronto, Canada, are now using a new way to treat patients by delivering a one-time dose of radiation during surgery called intraoperative radiation therapy that takes less than one hour and reportedly eliminates the need for further radiation treatments.
“The potential benefits to patients are huge,” said lead surgeon Dr. David McCready, who also heads the PMH Breast Cancer Program. “Treating the specific area of cancer with this kind of precision protects the skin, heart and lungs from unnecessary radiation, minimizes side effects, and saves the patient a lot of time.”
The system works by using a probe attached to the portable intrabeam radiotherapy machine; a single, concentrated dose is then inserted directly into the affected area inside the breast during surgery. Dr. McCready says the one-time dose is “biologically equivalent” to conventional radiation treatments for breast cancer that typically require, on average, a minimum of 16 treatments over three weeks.
Dr. Anthony Fyles, the radiation oncologist who leads the Breast Radiation Oncology Program and treated the first patient in the operating room that day, said, “This procedure is helping us understand more about the biology of how breast tissue responds to treatment. That knowledge, in turn, will help us further customize and select the best treatment options for individuals with early breast cancer.”

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