​What is IORT?

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a treatment for cancer in which the radiation is delivered directly to a small area of the body, all at once. This is different from the usual method of delivering radiation, in which a larger part of the body (such as an entire organ) receives radiation for a longer period of time.

How is intraoperative radiation therapy used to treat breast cancer?

IORT is used in breast cancer patients who have had a lumpectomy (removal of a tumor from the breast), rather than a mastectomy (removal of the entire breast). The IORT technology offers high-dose radiation directly to the tumor bed during surgery, after the tumor has been removed.

Which breast cancer patients should receive intraoperative radiation therapy?

Patients who may most benefit from IORT for breast cancer are over the age of 50 and have early stage breast cancer that has not spread.

What are the advantages of intraoperative radiation therapy?

IORT may offer the following benefits:

  • All of the needed radiation can be delivered at one time. The “standard” radiation therapy schedule for breast cancer is five days a week for up to six weeks. IORT saves time, and is more convenient for the patient.
  • The radiation dose in IORT is much smaller than that of external beam radiotherapy.
  • Nearby normal organs and tissues receive less radiation from the IORT radiation.