New therapy reduces treatment time for breast cancer patients

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

Source: Ivanhoe News Service


The American Cancer Society estimates more than a quarter million people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year. Many of them will get weeks of radiation after surgery. A new option that eliminates that extra treatment time for early stage patients.

Judy Collins was 80 when she learned she had cancer in both breasts. She said she wasn’t worried.

“It was a blip out of my life. How’s that?” Collins said.

She had electron intraoperative radiation therapy, or EIORT. Judy got all her radiation during her lumpectomies and says her life hasn’t changed.

“You get up Monday morning, you play tennis, and Tuesday morning, you play golf, and Wednesday, you might have a tennis game, and Friday, for sure you have a tennis game. And I don’t sit around a whole lot,” Collins said.

Surgeon Mary Wilde and radiation oncologist Ken Shimizu of the Scripps Clinic tag team the procedure. Doctor Wilde removed the tumor and placed a copper shield under the surgical site.

“The radiation is very, very precise and it doesn’t scatter to other parts of the breast. It is stopped behind the tissue that needs to be irradiated by that protective shield,” said Dr. Wilde.

Doctor Shimizu picks the right-sized cone to direct radiation into the incision for two minutes. Studies show EIORT is as effective as traditional radiation in some patients.

“They found that the patients that had lower risk disease had essentially the same risk of recurrence. Not only is it convenient and has excellent cosmetic results, but we all have the medical background and information to be able to support using it,” said Dr. Shimizu.

Judy was back in action ten days after treatment, which for her is par for the course.

To get EIORT, patients must be over the age of 50, have invasive ductal carcinoma, and tumors two centimeters or smaller. But Doctor Shimizu is also running a clinical trial for patients with more types of tumors that can be up to two-point-five centimeters.

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