PHILADELPHIA, March 17 Technology never before offered in the U.S. that allows patients to receive one dose of radiation during surgery, as opposed to the current average of six weeks, was successfully delivered to several breast cancer patients last week -- including the sister of the man responsible for bringing the technology from Italy.
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The intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) Novac7 allows patients to receive radiation treatment, delivered with the same power and precision as other advanced radiation techniques, while still in the operating room undergoing surgery, often without any additional outpatient radiation treatment visits and with fewer side effects. IORT also offers patients better cosmetic results and improved quality of life as the need for additional radiation treatment is minimized or eliminated altogether.
After his mother passed away from breast cancer, Dr. Pablo Lavagnini, director of radiation oncology at CTCA, began fighting to bring the world's best cancer-fighting options to patients. He became a crusader for IORT, a cost-effective treatment option widely used in Europe that helps patients get back to their daily activities sooner, with the same or better outcomes, fewer side effects and improved cosmetic results. Dr. Lavagnini celebrated the Novac7's arrival at CTCA in October 2009. Since then he and his colleagues have overcome numerous logistical and licensing obstacles, remaining driven by the tremendous therapeutic and quality of life benefits that this treatment brings to breast cancer patients.
Since the Novac7 arrived in the United States, Dr. Lavagnini's only sister, Asise, discovered her own breast cancer diagnosis. She traveled from her home in Uruguay to seek a second opinion from her brother and, in a twist of fate, last week became the very first patient in the U.S. to receive IORT with the Novac7.
"It is as if my life's work was leading up to this day," said Dr. Lavagnini. "I never expected my sister to be my patient, but I am thankful that she was among the many women who will benefit from this technology, which is very different from the treatment that our mother received many years ago. I expect that IORT will change the standard of care for breast cancer over time."
Other patients like Jackie Stevens, who traveled to CTCA from her home in Virginia Beach, Virginia, to receive treatment on Wednesday, decided that IORT was the best option based largely on the time savings that it offered. "As soon as my doctors told me that I could get my radiation at the same time as my lumpectomy, I thought 'Wow! What a blessing,'" said Jackie.
Any patient who is having surgery to remove a tumor has a high likelihood of benefiting from IORT. While IORT will offer significant benefits for breast cancer patients, it will also be a valuable tool for many patients battling other cancer types including: stomach, pancreatic, rectal, prostate, gynecological, head and neck, and soft tissue sarcomas (especially retroperitoneal). For patients who must receive additional radiation therapy following surgery, they can receive a "boost" of radiation during IORT, shielding the surrounding tissues from radiation damage while delievering a higher dose to the area requiring treatment.
More information about IORT and what it means to patients is available in the attached patient stories and fact sheet. Additional content and animation illustrating what occurs during the procedure is also available on cancercenter.com. Patients interested in learning more can call 1.888.353.7687.
About Cancer Treatment Centers of America:
Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) is a national network of hospitals providing a comprehensive, fully integrative approach to cancer treatment. CTCA serves patients with advanced cancer from all 50 states at facilities located in suburban Chicago, Philadelphia, Tulsa and suburban Phoenix. For more information about Cancer Treatment Centers of America, go to cancercenter.com.
SOURCE Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Eastern Regional Medical Center