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Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a modification of external beam therapy. The radiation is delivered by a linear accelerator that is actually located in the operating room. Radiation is given through a collimator (cylinder) directly to a portion of the breast during surgery through the open skin incision to the lining of the surgical cavity. This enables a very high dose of radiation to be given at one time to the breast tissue alone, sparing all other surrounding organs, and usually in place of any postoperative treatments.
Before radiation treatment begins, each patient will have a preliminary appointment that allows doctors to prescribe the proper dosage and delivery of radiation.
Once this "set-up" is complete and special blocks have been made to shield healthy organs from the radiation, treatment can be scheduled.
How IORT works
In the intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) protocol, a high dose of radiation is focused on the remaining tissue surrounding a tumor that has been removed during surgery while the patient is still in the operating room.
Factors in successful treatment
Appropriate patient selection and expert surgical technique are both critical to the success of IORT because clean margins must be present after the tumor is removed before it is advisable to limit radiation treatment to just the tumor site.
Features and advantages
IORT has two chief advantages:
First, in some cases, no further radiation treatment is required following IORT, making it a much more convenient approach for delivering therapy.
Secondly, doctors are able to shield surrounding organs from radiation, limiting side effects to healthy tissue.