This new treatment will “minimize side effects from radiation, save time and money, and increase the number of women who will seek treatment,” a local oncologist told Ladwig.
The procedure involves removing the cancerous tumor from the breast, called a lumpectomy, and then delivering a concentrated dose of radiation directly in the cavity where the tumor was removed. The “radiation is delivered in as little as eight minutes,” Ladwig reports.
Dr. Anthony E. Dragun, a U of L radiation oncologist, told Ladwig that “the new treatment will produce better health outcomes for some patients and will make breast cancer treatments available for more women.”
Traditional therapies typically require patients undergo radiation treatments five days per week for up to eight week, Ladwig notes. Dragun explained that this is not feasible for many women because they can’t afford to take so much time off work, don’t have access to childcare to accommodate the daily treatments or don’t have access to transportation to get them to their appointments. So, they choose a mastectomy or have the lumpectomy “and fail to follow up on radiation treatments, resulting in a higher chance of the cancer returning,” Ladwig writes.
“According to a study co-funded by the University College London Hospitals, the IORT when delivered together with the lumpectomy had about the same breast cancer outcomes — and a “significant reduction in deaths from causes other than breast cancer.” However, when IORT was delivered in a second procedure, breast cancer recurrence was higher than with traditional radiation therapy,” Ladwig writes. Dragun told Ladwig that the studies “clearly indicate the benefits of the new treatment.
Dragun said of the procedure, ” It’s definitely a game changer.”