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Breast cancer - single-dose intraoperative radiotherapy (SD-IORT™)

Single-dose intraoperative radiotherapy (SD-IORT™) for breast cancer is a safe and effective alternative to standard radiotherapy.

Woman receiving single-dose intraoperative radiotherapy treatment (SD IORT) for breast cancer
Single-dose intraoperative radiotherapy (SD-IORT™) for breast cancer is considered a safe and effective alternative to standard radiotherapyr.Unlike standard radiotherapy, which involves daily doses of treatment for up to five weeks, SD-IORT™ is a single dose given by your breast surgeon in one treatment. For many women, this means no additional radiotherapy treatment is needed.

Because SD-IORT™ is performed at the same time as your breast lump removal/lumpectomy surgery lots of people find it’s a practical and convenient option.

When you wake up from your operation, your tumour will have been removed and the tumour bed treated with SD-IORT™.

Who can have SD-IORT™?

Whether or not you can have SD-IORT™ depends on your age, the stage of your cancer and the treatment you’re having. Generally, SD-IORT™ is suitable for women over 50 with early stage breast cancer and who are suitable for a lumpectomy. The size of the tumour is also important. You will only be able to have SD-IORT™ if your tumour is 3cm or less in size.

During your treatment

While you’re still asleep under anaesthetic, your breast surgeon will place an inflatable balloon applicator into the space where your tumour was removed. Then your surgeon will inflate the balloon until it fits comfortably in the tumour bed. It takes around 10 minutes to deliver the SD-IORT™.

Recovering from treatment with SD-IORT™

When you wake up from your operation, you might have a drain in your breast to get rid of excess fluid. You may also need to take antibiotics to help stop you from getting an infection. Patients are often able to go home the same day as their surgery, or the day after.

Benefits of SD-IORT™

  • Shorter recovery time: Because SD-IORT™ is one targeted dose, you should be able to return to your normal routines more easily than if you’d had some other types of treatment. There isn’t as much disruption to your family and work because you don’t need to travel to and from hospital for radiotherapy every day for weeks.
  • Quicker treatment: In early stage breast cancer, SD-IORT™ gives you a concentrated dose of radiotherapy immediately after the tumour has been removed. This immediate treatment helps to destroy microscopic cancer cells that your surgeon can’t remove.
  • Spares healthy tissue: With SD-IORT™, you’re given a very precise dose of radiotherapy, meanwhile healthy tissue and organs like your heart and lungs are protected from the radiation with an internal shield.

Other advantages of SD-IORT™ can include:

  • better cosmetic results
  • your breast reconstruction can be done right away
  • fewer side effects than other treatments.

Possible side effects and complications

When you wake up after your lumpectomy, you might feel a bit tender and uncomfortable, but most people have fewer side effects following SD-IORT™ than after other types of breast radiotherapy. This is because less of the breast is treated.

Other side effects of SD-IORT™ include:

  • redness, dryness and itching around your wound
  • bruising and swelling
  • drainage from where the balloon applicator was placed.

A small number of people might also notice fluid build-up, bleeding, infection or that the wound is healing slowly.

If you notice any of these side effects or are worried about anything, talk to your breast consultant or breast care nurse.

Paying for your treatment

You have two options to pay for your breast cancer treatment – your costs may be covered by your private medical insurance, or you can pay for yourself.

Check with your private medical insurer to see if your diagnostic costs are covered under your medical insurance policy.

If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the procedure will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation.

Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the consultants’ fees and the hospital charge for your procedure.

For further information or to book a consultation or treatment, please get in touch with our cancer enquiries team: Call us on 0800 157 7747

Content reviewed: October 2014

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