Cancer removed in one dose with radiation treatment

New radiation treatment available in Central Florida

CELEBRATION, Fla. - Women with early stage breast cancer can now have the cancer removed and their radiation treatment completed at the same time.

"When we sign patients up for lumpectomy, we automatically sign her up for a radiation process.  One goes hand in hand with the other," said Dr. Olga Ivanov, a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer procedures.

Radiation treatment typically lasts for six weeks, with patients coming in five days a week to receive the radiation.

But with interoperative radiation treatment, or IORT, surgeons like Ivanov are able to apply it all in one dose.

Ivanov was the first doctor in the United States to perform an interoperative radiation treatment in conjunction with a lumpectomy, pioneering the procedure in Chicago.

Now, she has brought the procedure to Celebration Health, a Florida Hospital Facility.

"It's a fairly new approach to treating breast cancer in the United States.  A handful of centers in the country do offer it," said Ivanov.

She said many of her patients tell her the procedure was so easy it doesn't even feel like they had cancer at all.

Elener Coan found out she had breast cancer in late August and by the middle of September she had completed all of her treatment.

"I am so happy, I did not have to go through 6 weeks of 5-days-a-week radiation treatment or go through chemotherapy," said Coan, a busy retiree who lives in the Solivita community outside Poinciana.

Coan was lucky because the cancer was caught before it spread to her lymphnodes so she was eligible for the procedure.  Women who have later stage breast cancers could not be able to receive effective IORT treatment.

Ivanov said as high as 50 percent of breast cancer patients never come back after their lumpectomies to receive or complete their radiation treatment because it takes too much time. 

"Patients can definitely see a difference between 6 weeks and a couple of minutes they are not aware of," she said.

Even though the FDA approved the devices used to complete the procedure in 2008 and 2009, women undergoing IORT at Celebration Health will still be part of a clinical study.

Dr. Ivanov said the key is collecting longterm data about the procedure.

"We know it works, but the proof is in the pudding.  The proof is in the longterm 10 year data, so that is why I'm enrolling my patients in the trial because I just want to have the benefit of the data," said Ivanov.

IORT is now covered by insurance.

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