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Technology at Atrium Health Navicent Reduces Radiation Treatment Time for Eligible Breast Cancer Patients

Atrium Health Navicent is the only provider in central and south Georgia offering Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and doctors at Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center want the community to know about a cutting-edge treatment only available locally at Atrium Health Navicent. Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) is a radiation treatment which directs radiation to a targeted area while minimizing effects to the surrounding tissue. It delivers higher doses of radiation than standard radiation therapy and has decreased radiation therapy time from 21 days to eight minutes for certain breast cancer patients.

Women over 65 with small tumors and who are lymph node negative can qualify for the one-dose treatment at Atrium Health Navicent. The treatment is performed during a lumpectomy, minimizing additional treatment visits.

“IORT is used to treat early-stage breast cancer and allows eligible patients to receive just eight minutes of treatment in lieu of 21 days of post-operative radiation. The reduction in treatment time is extremely important for patients who may not live nearby, or who may have difficulty arranging transportation to attend appointments,” said Dr. Paul Dale, Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center director and a surgical oncologist. “We’re seeing outstanding results. The patients love it because it’s so easy.”

Accounting for about 30 percent of all new female cancers each year, breast cancer is the second most common cancer among American women. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that in 2023 about 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, leading to about 43,700 deaths.

Overall, the average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13 percent. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. Atrium Health Navicent is participating in a clinical trial which explores the use of IORT and its impacts on breast cancer treatment. One of the parts of the study examines the cosmetic impact of the treatment.

“What we’re seeing is that the cosmetic results after IORT are better than whole-breast radiation,” Dale said.

While the technology itself is not new, the size of the machine has decreased in the last decade, allowing it to be placed in smaller operating rooms. The next closest places to receive IORT are in Atlanta and Gainesville, Florida.

Atrium Health Navicent Breast Care Center, a facility of Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center, is accredited by The National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC), a quality program of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). As a NAPBC-accredited center, the Breast Care Center’s goal is to provide patients with a timely diagnosis of abnormal mammograms, lumps or other breast changes, and to reduce the time from diagnosis to treatment.

The Breast Care Center is also a National Consortium of Breast Centers’ “Certified Quality Breast Center of Excellence” and has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology’s Commission on Quality and Safety and the Commission on Breast Imaging.

Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center provides the latest technology for the early detection of breast cancer, including state-of-the-art 3D mammography and new SCOUT technology, as well as 3D biopsies, same-day biopsies, breast ultrasounds, 3D mammography, wireless breast localization biopsies, molecular breast imaging and breast MRI. High-risk hereditary screenings are also available. The caring and experienced team of specialists at the Cancer Center offer services ranging from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and survivorship support.

If you or a loved one has concerns about cancer risk factors, available screenings or cancer care, contact Atrium Health Navicent Peyton Anderson Cancer Center at 478-633-3000. To find a doctor, visit www.NavicentHealth.org and click “Find A Doctor.”

About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of health care in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and wellbeing through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent is part of Advocate Health, which is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the third-largest nonprofit health system in the United States, created from the combination of Atrium Health and Advocate Aurora Health. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit www.NavicentHealth.org.

About Advocate Health

Advocate Health is the third-largest nonprofit integrated health system in the United States – created from the combination of Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health. Providing care under the names Advocate Health Care in Illinois, Atrium Health in the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, and Aurora Health Care in Wisconsin, Advocate Health is a national leader in clinical innovation, health outcomes, consumer experience and value-based care, with Wake Forest University School of Medicine serving as the academic core of the enterprise. Headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, Advocate Health serves nearly 6 million patients and is engaged in hundreds of clinical trials and research studies. It is nationally recognized for its expertise in cardiology, neurosciences, oncology, pediatrics and rehabilitation, as well as organ transplants, burn treatments and specialized musculoskeletal programs. Advocate Health employs nearly 150,000 team members across 67 hospitals and over 1,000 care locations and offers one of the nation’s largest graduate medical education programs with over 2,000 residents and fellows across more than 200 programs. Committed to equitable care for all, Advocate Health provides nearly $5 billion in annual community benefits.