Cancer treatments are getting smaller. Lumpectomies instead of mastectomies and now targeted radiation in a one time 20 to 30 minute treatment, instead of spread out over six weeks.
"With this particular procedure, we deliver all the radiation therapy while they are in the operating room having their lumpectomy," Community Breast Care Dr. S. Chace Lottich says. Dr. Lottich has been using it on her patients for several months.
Jan Miller of Greenwood was diagnosed with breast cancer in January and she chose IORT. Like other patients, her radiation treatment took place in the operating room.
Jan was a good candidate, she had a stage one cancer and her tumor was small. Her advice to other patients: ask questions.
"Make sure that you ask all kinds of questions about having radiation daily for about six weeks, and the option of the IORT," says Jan.
Dr. Lottich says this new delivery system has been studied for 10 years in nine countries and data shows it's as effective as the traditional therapy in killing cancer.
"We remove the cancer and then we put the device directly into the cavity where the cancer used to be and we treat the tissue that was around where the cancer was."
Data shows less scar tissue forms, the chest cavity is exposed to less radiation and there are fewer skin reactions with IORT. The downside: women with larger tumors aren't good candidates, and they have to be over the age of 45.
Jan's happy she had the choice.
"You think oh this is the first day of the rest of a new life, a new journey, and it is."
For more about the treatment's use in the Bay area, click here.
Both Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of South Florida Breast Health Program with Florida Hospital Tampa offer IORT.