Dr. Rizzo and Others Offer One-Time Radiation During Breast Surgery at EUHM

December 2015

Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM) is one of only three centers in Georgia to provide the new breast cancer procedure known as targeted Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT). Emory surgical oncologist and Winship Cancer Institute member Monica Rizzo, MD, is among the community and faculty doctors that perform the procedure at the hospital.

Targeted IORT is an individualized radiation treatment that delivers low-energy X-rays directly into the breast tumor cavity immediately following such breast-conserving surgeries as partial mastectomy. Dr. Rizzo enthusiastically supported the establishment of the procedure at EUHM by Rogsbert Phillips, MD, a community-based breast surgeon and Emory Healthcare Network physician, and Emory radiation oncologist Karen Godette, MD.

"This is a huge advantage for the patient," says Dr. Rizzo. "Instead of having six weeks of whole breast radiation therapy, patients can have one treatment in the operating room while they are asleep."

After Dr. Rizzo completes the breast conservation portion of the surgery, she and Dr. Godette maneuver the Zeiss INTRABEAM machine's applicator into the breast tumor cavity so that it can precisely deliver the radiation dose to the area where the tumor has been removed, thereby minimizing radiation to the surrounding healthy tissue.

"Clinical studies show that if patients are selected properly, IORT is just as good as standard radiation therapy after surgery, in terms of tumor recurrence," says Dr. Godette.

"Proper patient selection is key," says Dr. Phillips. "The best candidates are usually women aged 50 and above with early-stage breast cancer, or small tumors that have not spread."

The one-time radiation treatment takes 20-45 minutes to deliver, and most patients do not need supplemental radiation. The radiation treatment in the operating room also means no delay in receiving radiation. Standard radiation treatment usually begins four to six weeks after surgery to allow the surgical wound to heal.

"Patients will typically have a quick recovery time following IORT," says Dr. Rizzo, "and it costs less than traditional radiation treatments, which take much longer."

Watch the video below, produced by Emory University:

««return to top