Single Dose Radiation at Time of Surgery Helps Women with Early Stage Breast Cancer Forego 6-7 Week Radiation Regimen

NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell First Hospital in NYC to offer Novel Breast Cancer Treatment

Jul 5, 2012


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center is the first and only hospital in the five boroughs of New York City to offer women with early stage breast cancer INTRABEAM radiotherapy, an innovative radiation treatment delivered in a single dose at the time of surgery.

Women with early stage breast cancer often have breast-conserving surgery, otherwise known as a lumpectomy, to remove a cancerous tumor. Lumpectomy is followed by a regimen of daily doses of radiation therapy to the entire breast, generally lasting six to seven consecutive weeks.

"INTRABEAM Radiotherapy may be an effective alternative to a six to seven week regimen following surgery for select patients because it allows us to precisely target any remaining cancer cells right inside the tumor bed, where the tumor is most likely to recur," says Dr. Mary Katherine Hayes, clinical director of Radiation Oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and associate professor of Clinical Radiology and Radiation Oncology at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Immediately following removal of the tumor, while the patient is still on the operating table, the INTRABEAM applicator's small, cylindrical tip is placed inside the tumor cavity to deliver a superficial dose of radiation for 20-30 minutes, while limiting exposure to healthy surrounding tissue and organs. After the applicator is removed, the surgical incision is closed.

"Our ability to use this radiation technique in such a timely manner may add to its effectiveness since the area in need of treatment can be directly visualized at the moment the tumor is removed," say Dr. Alexander J. Swistel, attending breast surgeon at the Iris Cantor Women's Health Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and associate professor of clinical surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College.

This alternative to conventional full-breast radiation therapy is in step with the hospital's longstanding practice of tailoring partial breast cancer treatments to a growing number of patients with a small, early stage tumor. Eliminating an additional 6-7 weeks of radiation therapy is particularly convenient for patients who do not live in close proximity to a hospital or an established radiation therapy facility.

A 10-year randomized phase 3 clinical trial of intraoperative therapy for breast cancer found that for selected patients, single dose radiotherapy delivered at the time of surgery yielded the same results as conventional full breast radiation delivered over several weeks. The TARGIT-A Trial, published in The Lancet in July 2010, studied only the INTRABEAM system and was the largest randomized clinical trial conducted in this field, more than two thousand women in multiple countries were enrolled.

While INTRABEAM is limited to a select group of patients with a very small tumor, if tissue samples removed during surgery prove more aggressive than preliminary tests revealed, the patient will still be able to undergo conventional full-breast radiation. However, the patient would not need to undergo the final five-day phase of conventional treatment, known as boost therapy, which targets the tumor bed with external radiation.

"We are very excited to provide this cutting edge treatment to patients with early staged breast cancer. This is a part of our effort toward personalized cancer care", say Dr. K.S. Clifford Chao, Radiation-Oncologist-in-Chief of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and professor of Weill Cornell Medical Center.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson's disease; the first indication of bone marrow's critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world's first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit and

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