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University of Kansas Health System adds new radiation treatment for breast cancer patients

"IORT" is short for intra operative radiation therapy
Surgery at University of Kansas Health System
Posted at 9:12 AM, Feb 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-21 18:15:27-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local hospital is giving breast cancer patients a sign of hope with a new form of radiation treatment.

Betty Dickinson, who lives in Plattsburg, Missouri is diligent about her mammograms.

"I go with three or four other friends of mine, we go annually," Dickinson.

But, a recent screening came with some bad news.

"He said I'm really sorry to tell you, but you do have breast cancer," Dickinson said.

There is a silver lining in her diagnosis, it was caught early and she's a perfect candidate for a new form of radiation treatment at the University of Kansas Health System.

"It's called IORT. It's short for intra operative radiation therapy and it's new to our area but it's not new in the world of breast cancer. It's actually an FDA approved approach to treat breast cancer," Dr. Kelsey Larson, Breast Surgical Oncologist at University of Kansas Cancer Center said.

The hospital said this allows patients to get a "one shot" radiation treatment during the lumpectomy surgery and "in most cases better outcomes than traditional radiation treatment due to the side effects that often happen."

Dickinson agreed to get IORT during her lumpectomy surgery.

First, Dr. Larson does a lymph node check.

"And when I'm done with this, then the radiation oncologist and I work together in order to place the radiation device in the lumpectomy cavity, so exactly where the tumor was. The radiation oncologist then puts the prescription for the radiation treatment into the machine. The radiation is delivered over 20 to 40 minutes while the patient's asleep in surgery and it's delivered right exactly to where their tumor used to be," Dr. Larson said.

This is saving breast cancer patients from having to come into the hospital multiple times a week for radiation.

"Instead of having to travel every single day again for several weeks to receive treatment, they can get their treatment at the same time as their surgery," Dr. Larson said.

Dickinson is doing great since her surgery and is grateful she always gets her mammogram.

"You have to keep on top of that kind of stuff, even if it doesn't run in your family because it didn't run in mine," Dickinson said.

As of now, the University of Kansas Health System is the only hospital to offer this type of radiation treatment. Saint Luke's Health System offers Brachytherapy, which is a form of radiation treatment.