Mayo Clinic Scottsdale is currently testing a new procedure that provides high doses of radiation to breast cancer patients at the time of cancer surgery.
Intraoperative radiation cuts back on the amount of external radiation needed after breast cancer surgery by providing a single dose of radiation that is equivalent to two to five weeks of daily external radiation therapy, said Dr. William Wang, a radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale.
The study is in its second year and is open to women who have been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.
"The lump can’t be bigger than 5 centimeters, and the lymph nodes must be cancer-free," Wang said.
Immediately after a lumpectomy, patients are placed under the Mobetron, an intraoperative radiation machine approved by the Food and Drug Administration. An aluminium tube is inserted into the patient and acts as a guide for the highdose radiation that is delivered through a concentrated beam.
"We can administer high doses because we are able to administer radiation to the exact location, without fear of injury to healthy tissue," Wang said. There are currently only six Mobetron intraoperative radiation machines in the United States, and Mayo Clinic Scottsdale has the only one west of the Mississippi.
Scottsdale resident Patricia Schwab is part of the study. The 69-year-old underwent breast cancer treatment last year and said she was happy to have had access to the high-dose radiation.
"There was a sense of security in having it done immediately after surgery," Schwab said.
Schwab said she underwent several weeks of external radiation treatment that burned her skin, causing it to discolor and swell.
"I could see it was damaging my skin, and I was glad to be able to
discontinue it earlier than I would have," she said.
Women who enroll in the study are monitored for eight years after treatment to determine long-term results, Wang said. Mayo Clinic spokeswoman Anne Tewksbury said the clinic anticipates intraoperative radiation treatment will become its standard procedure for the treatment of early stage breast cancer.
To learn more about how to enroll in the breast cancer study, call Mayo Clinic Scottsdale at (480) 301-6999.