A steady increase in breast cancer cases has been observed among Filipinos. One in every 13 Filipinas is at risk of getting the disease in her lifetime. However, when breast cancer is diagnosed early between stages 1 and 2, the chances for successful treatment is at its highest.
For treatment of early stage breast cancer, a patient may have the option to retain her affected breast, not have a total mastectomy. A patient may opt to have a breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy = partial mastectomy) with radiation treatment. Radiation therapy is considered an area where there is recent progress in breast cancer treatment.
The Medical City now offers this new treatment option - Intraoperative Radiation Therapy or IORT.
With IORT, a patient may receive radiation treatment in minutes instead of six weeks. It is a new technique that allows patients to safely receive their radiation treatment at the same time as their surgery for breast cancer. For patients who have the option to conserve their breasts, IORT is given directly to the area where the cancer was, at the same time as their breast conserving surgery.
The radiation accurately targets the affected tumor bed with less-to-no-effect to surrounding normal tissues.
The side effects of traditional radiation include fatigue, scarring and commuting to daily treatments over a period of six weeks — a commitment that is often inconvenient for many women. IORT highlights the reduced side effects of radiation, as well as convenience to the patients. Because for some patients, this may be the only radiation treatment they will need. This makes IORT an increasingly attractive option for qualified candidates.
For some other patients, IORT reduces post-surgery radiation treatment by half. Instead of the 33 sessions of post-surgery radiation, they will only need 15 sessions having already received an intraoperative boost during the time of surgery.
"IORT saves time, and is more convenient for the patient. Patient’s recovery period becomes shorter and she can return to normal activity earlier than the usual," said Dr. Maria Kaiserin J. Santos-Lipana, a breast cancer surgeon at The Medical City.
IORT also utilizes team approach as surgical oncologist and radiation oncologist work together in the operating room during the procedure.
“If a loved one is diagnosed with breast cancer and is worried about the surgery and a painful recovery plus weeks of radiation treatments, she can ask her doctor if she is qualified for IORT,” adds Dr. Lipana.
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