What is IOeRT for breast cancer treatment?

For women with early stage breast cancer there is an option, which preserves breast tissue, delivers a high dose of radiation to the tumor bed where the cancer was removed and significantly reduces or eliminates follow-up radiation treatment. It’s called intra-operative electron radiation therapy or IOeRT and it’s available at St. Luke’s Hospital, which is the only facility in Cedar Rapids with this technology.

“We have a process to identify if individuals are good candidates for IOeRT,” said Kerri Nowell, MD, Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa surgeon. “It’s not indicated for all individuals with breast cancer. It is dependent on several factors including the type of cancer, size of the tumor, hormone receptor status and presence of DCIS or in situ disease. Some women may get all their radiation as a single fraction during surgery, while others may receive a boost dose during surgery and then complete a few weeks of daily radiation at St. Luke’s Nassif Radiation Center once surgery is completed.”

IOeRT is also only available to patients who choose a lumpectomy. During surgery the surgeon removes the tumor and a radiation oncologist applies a concentrated dose of electron beam radiation directly to the tumor bed. A shield and cone protect healthy tissue from unnecessary radiation. During the treatment the patient receives a high dose boost of radiation. Studies show IOeRT offers low recurrence rates because it treats the area where most breast cancers recur.

“In a sense, IOeRT gives patients a little more control when they are facing breast cancer because it is another treatment option available,” said Dr. Nowell. “As a doctor you want to present patients with several options. It’s nice to offer IOeRT to select individuals. It’s a great feeling to tell them, ‘we can greatly shorten your course of treatment.’ It also allows them to get back to the things they want to do before cancer interfered with their life. It’s something I would want for myself and I am thrilled to be able to offer it to our patients.”

Call (319) 861-6944 for a one-on-one, same-day consultation with a care coordinator. You’ll be guided through the steps to determine if you’re a candidate for IOeRT or fill out a questionnaire online at bit.ly/IOERT.

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