After becoming the first hospital in New York City to offer intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to women with certain breast cancers in 2012, the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, alongside Columbia University Medical Center, is now furthering efforts to offer this therapy for other types of cancer in the abdomen and pelvis.
IORT is a new technique for the treatment of breast cancer in patients who undergo lumpectomy surgery. For the last few months, it has begun to be offered in increasingly more institutions, such as Rush University or the British National Health Service, as Radiation Therapy News as reported recently.
This treatment option may significantly reduce breast cancer patients’ exposure to radiation, time spent in the hospital, and chance of a recurrence, as it requires only a single dose, applied directly into the surgical site, immediately after surgical removal of a cancerous tumor.
The tumor bed in the abdomen and pelvis differs from that in the breast as it may not be as clearly defined after surgery, and several sites at risk for recurrence may need to be treated. Cancer experts in New York are thus resorting to IORT as a promising alternative to remove such tumors.
The first time the NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital used IORT for a cancer other than breast cancer was in a woman who had recurrent colon cancer in the pelvic cavity and needed to treat separate areas of her body. The surgeon, Ravi Kiran, chief of colorectal surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia, removed the tumor, but could not cut too close to vital blood vessels and other organs. The solution he found to complete the treatment, along with chair of radiation oncology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia Clifford Chao, was to use IORT to detect and destroy any remaining tumor cells.
Other cases followed, including a bile duct tumor and a gynecologic cancer, and results are encouraging. In tumors that need to be removed in a specific way, or in cases where the spaces between a tumor and large vessels and nerves are too small, IORT allows doctors to treat those areas and lower the risk of recurrence,” explained Dr. Chao in a press release. He hopes the benefits of using this therapy in different types of cancers will be similar to using it in breast cancer, where IORT has eliminated an additional 6–7 weeks of radiation therapy, yielding the same results as conventional full-breast radiation.
Dr. Chao is currently working with engineers and physicists from NewYork Presbyterian/Columbia and NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center to design and develop applicators for colorectal, head and neck, lung, and gynecologic cancers.