Breast cancer is the most common breast type in Israeli women and it is expected to harm one of every eight women during her life, but thanks to an early diagnosis and an improved treatment, most of the patients are expected to reach full recovery.
In most cases it is possible to conduct a surgery and remove the tumor alone, but this surgery requires complementary radiation therapies. The accepted radiation therapy includes a series of 20-30 treatments given every day, five days a week, for a few weeks to the entire breast and to the tumor bed. Beyond the trouble of arriving to the hospital on a daily basis for a few weeks, the treatment might also induce burns in your breast and harm adjacent organs such as the lungs and heart.
An innovative treatment method saves this radiation series in certain cases: a single time focused radiation therapy to the tumor area, conducted within the surgery to remove this tumor.
The main advantage of the focused treatment is shortening the length of the treatment from a few weeks to a single therapy provided during the operation. In addition, the focused treatment might prove less harmful to adjacent organs such as the heart and lungs, compared to the standard treatment given to the entire breast.
Using inter-surgical radiation prolongs the surgery in about 45 minutes in average, but, as mentioned above, saves six-seven weeks of daily treatments.
This treatment has almost no side-effects, and there was no significant increase in complications as a result of this surgery, such as the accumulation of fluids in the surgery area or infections in the surgery wound.
Inter-surgical radiation suits women over 55, with a single tumor up to 2-3 cm which originates in the milk ducts (ductal breast cancer), and positive receptors for estrogen.
In certain cases, this treatment can suit women who underwent radiation therapy on that breast before.
The treatment is not recommended for young women who have a relatively high risk for the reappearance of a new tumor in the same breast. Therefore, we mostly advise young women to undergo the standard treatment for the entire breast. We also provide such a recommendation to women with infected armpit lymph nodes in order to include the armpit in the radiation field.
The evaluation is that the treatment suites about a quarter of the women diagnosed with breast cancer in Israel and may prove the need of prolonged treatment redundant and save the patients both time and suffering on their way to healing.