Intensive, Targeted Radiation Treatment Now Available in Mass.

Lahey Medical Center in Peabody is the first hospital in the state to offer the breast cancer treatment.

Breast Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT) is an intensive, targeted radiation treatment for patients with early-stage breast cancer that studies say can reduce treatment from six weeks to only one dose. The procedure will now be available in Massachusetts at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Peabody, which is the first hospital in the state to offer the treatment.

IORT is administered during a lumpectomy. Lahey Hospital said in a statement that the treatment destroys microscopic tumor cells that may be left behind during surgery, while minimizing radiation exposure to the surrounding healthy tissue and organs. “Intraoperative Radiotherapy is one of the most promising advancements in breast cancer treatment we have seen in quite some time,” says Dr. Rebecca Yang, medical director of the Lahey Comprehensive Breast Health Center. “With Breast IORT, our clinicians will be able to provide patients with personally tailored, leading-edge care close to home. This will allow a large number of our patients to complete their cancer treatment sooner and more efficiently.”

Because standard radiation therapy is delivered five days per week for six weeks, using IORT can eliminate weeks of treatment by delivering the necessary prescribed dose of radiation during surgery immediately following removal of the tumor. Lahey Hospital says in a statement that the approach reduces the side effects of traditional radiation therapy, reduces the need for a follow-up mastectomy, and helps preserve healthy tissue and organs through a more targeted treatment.

“We are privileged to treat and truly care for women during this challenging time in their lives,” said Dr. Andrea McKee, chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at Lahey. “Using IORT, we are providing breast cancer patients with the latest clinical care, but also the most thoughtful and conscientious care for their emotional well-being, and that of their families.”

IORT has been studied for more than 10 years and the results are promising. That said, there are some doctors that feel the data is encouraging but still immature. It’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatments options for your own cancer treatment.