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Intra-Operative Radiotherapy (IORT)

What is it?

Intraoperative Radiotherapy (IORT) is a specialized form of radiotherapy used in the treatment of breast cancer. Like all radiotherapy, high energy radiation is used to damage and kill cancer cells, so as to reduce the amount of cancer in your body and increases the chance of you staying cancer free.

When is it done?

IORT is performed only in patients undergoing breast-conserving surgery. Additionally, IORT is suitable only for patients with early stage cancers and meet conditions that your radiation oncologists will advise you on.

How is it done?

In suitable patients, IORT is performed during the cancer surgery immediately upon removal of the tumour. A specialized applicator will be placed into the excision cavity to irradiate the immediate breast tissue from inside out hence limiting the dose to the rest of the involved breast and normal organs. As patients will remain under anesthesia, IORT is completely painless.

For most patients, this single fraction IORT will be the only radiotherapy they require, hence the treatment burden in well selected patients can be reduced. Occasionally, the surgery and subsequent examination of the cancer may reveal additional information about the cancer which may lead to your doctor recommending for the use of additional external beam RT after IORT.

What side effects can I expect?

Patients will experience the usual symptoms relating to breast cancer surgery. In addition, some patients may experience a slower resolution of the seroma associated with the surgical cavity. A smaller group of patients may find localized hardening of the breast tissue and skin in the region of the operation. Rarely, this may lead to a distortion of the breast in the long term.

Where is it done?

IORT is only available in National Cancer Centre Singapore. If you are considered for this procedure, you may be referred to Radiation Oncology for assessment and your surgeon can arrange to perform your surgery in National Cancer Centre Singapore.

Condition treated at: