Breast cancer treatment. What is intraoperative radiotherapy?

Radiation therapy treatment in patients with breast cancer is mandatory for those who retain the breast and necessary for some of the patients who have been treated with mastectomy. Normally, two doses of radiotherapy are usually given, one general throughout the chest and an extra more accurate and localized.


Intraoperative radiotherapy (RIO) is a technique that allows you to directly administer a single dose of radiation therapy to the tumor and the affected tissues just after breast cancer surgery. This treatment aims to reduce the toxicity of radiation and improve the patient’s quality of life. It is an innovative therapy that offers very good results.



How is the treatment process with intraoperative radiotherapy?

Intraoperative radiotherapy consists in the application of direct radiation with great precision in the tissues affected by the tumor. Just after surgery, the applicator is placed on the chest and the other tissues are protected with sutures to ensure that the contact is directly with the tissue, so that the treatment is optimal. This allows a large dose of radiation therapy to be administered directly to the tumor, being much more effective.


What advantages does intraoperative radiotherapy have?

One of the main advantages of this treatment is the lower toxicity compared to traditional radiotherapy, so it has fewer side effects. Likewise, the way of administering the radiation allows a more precise, direct and localized treatment, excluding the field of irradiation to the other tissues.

In addition, since it is a single administration of radiotherapy just after the removal of the tumor during the same surgical procedure, the patient is saved time, trips to the hospital, discomfort and days of external irradiation.

In breast cancer, intraoperative radiotherapy shows the same healing expectations as conventional treatment, but given the advantages explained, it provides a great benefit in terms of quality of life for the patient.


In which cases can it be treated with intraoperative radiotherapy?

Intraoperative radiotherapy is an innovative therapy present in a few hospitals that requires a specialized and multidisciplinary team to carry it out. This technique can be applied in the limited stages of breast cancer. Even so, it is the specialist oncologist who must decide which is the best treatment after examining the medical history of the patients, the results of the studies, the type of cancer detected and their characteristics.

If it is determined that the patient is a candidate for intraoperative radiotherapy, after the operation in which the tumor is removed, the team adjusts the applicators of the radiotherapy machine to the patient’s chest and schedules and administers the appropriate treatment, closely monitoring the process.

Quénet Torrent Institute is one of the first centers in Spain to have the necessary machinery for the application of intraoperative radiotherapy treatment, in collaboration with the IMOR center.


If you want to know more about breast cancer you can watch the following video of Dr. Prats, a specialist in senology and dedicated exclusively to breast pathology.

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