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Innovative Technique for Breast Cancer Patients Introduced at Soroka Medical Center

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Single Targeted Radiation Treatment During Surgery to Remove the Tumor instead of a Long Series of Radiotherapy

Soroka Medical Center has been equipped with an Intrabeam, an instrument that enables a single targeted radiation dose during breast surgery to excise the tumor. This method eliminates the need for the long drawn out series of radiation therapy that had been customary until now. It significantly reduces radiation side effects and the need for repeated visits to the hospital.

Some 4,500 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed every year in Israel. It is the most common malignant disease in Israel and the western world, but the earlier it is detected, the higher the recovery rate. The heightened awareness to the importance of early detection has led to an increase of women diagnosed at a relatively early stage, the development of simpler treatment methods and clearly, to the steady increase in the number of women recovering from it.

In recent years, one of the encouraging bits of news in breast cancer treatment is the possibility to pinpoint the radiation and proceed immediately following excision of the tumor, rather than radiating the entire breast later. Targeted radiotherapy is carried out by several methods and one of them is intra-operative radiotherapy (IORT).

IORT is suitable for women ages 60 and above whose tumor was discovered at an early stage and is smaller than 2 cm. Until today, when women undergo surgery to excise the tumor they are required to have a series of post-operative radiation treatments spanning weeks. Now, with the new technique, the patients receive a single targeted dose lasting 4050 minutes during the surgery to remove the tumor.

The radiation is directed solely at the area of the tumor and not the entire breast. The patient does not receive extraneous radiation to the surrounding healthy tissues and the risk of complications to adjacent areas is lessened. The procedure consists of a single treatment, saving the patients from daily exposure to radiotherapy, with its concurrent severe side effects such as burns and swelling.

Dr. Ravit Agassi, Specialist in General and Breast Surgery at Soroka Medical Center: “Treatment with this method leads to improved quality-of-life for the patients thanks to the fact that it saves them from a prolonged series of radiation treatments and possible resultant complications. Performing the radiation during the operation to remove the tumor ensures immediate control of the cancer cells and prevents their proliferation. Intra-operative radiotherapy enables maximum precision in treating the malignant area, while enabling completion of the radiation treatment in a short time”.

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