Atrium Health Navicent Breast Care Center, a Facility of Atrium Health Navicent The Medical Center

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) is a radiation treatment which directs radiation to a targeted area while minimizing effects to the surrounding tissue as little as possible. It delivers higher doses of radiation than standard radiation therapy and has decreased radiation therapy time from 21 days to 8 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.

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.

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