Researchers at Gangnam Severance Hospital have discovered that intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) is an effective alternative to conventional radiotherapy for breast cancer patients in Korea, the hospital said Wednesday.
|From left, Professors Jung Joon, Ahn Seung-gui and Bae Soong-joon|
The team, led by Professors Jung Joon, Ahn Seung-gui and Bae Soong-joon of the breast cancer center at the hospital, investigated the safety of IORT in breast cancer patients undergoing breast conservation surgery.
When breast conservation is possible in patients with breast cancer, breast-conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy has become one of the standard treatments. Although breast conservation improves the quality of life of patients, radiation therapy is mandatory for patients that receive the operation as without the radiation therapy the recurrence rate can significantly increase.
However, as postoperative radiation therapy could not pinpoint the site of the tumor medical professionals had to irradiate the entire breast, and due to the high dose of radiation, it increased the treatment period.
IORT is the treatment to overcome these shortcomings. Doctors can carry out IORT directly in the operating room after breast-conserving surgery while focusing the radiation to the surgical site.
The treatment can reduce the radiation treatment period and solve the problem of irradiating unnecessary parts with radiation. The procedure is already in active use in Europe as a remedy to replace conventional radiation therapy.
However, all previous studies on the effect of IORT focused on Europeans, and there were no academic verification data on safety and recurrence and mortality for Koreans.
The research team conducted the research similar to a phase 2 clinical trial on a small number of patients to study usage, dose, and safety. The study included 198 breast cancer patients who received breast-conserving surgery and IORT.
As a result, 33 of the 198 patients who participated in the trial showed complications, which was similar to the 15 percent of patients who received standard radiotherapy demonstrated in previous studies
The researchers also found that the study did not correlate with complications arising from radiation therapy and breast size. The incidence of complications due to radiation therapy increased with age and body mass index (BMI).
“IORT is a highly effective treatment that allows direct high-dose radiation during surgery to reduce the duration of additional radiotherapy by focusing on only the necessary areas, but there has not been a full-scale study on Asian patients so far,” Professor Jung said. “This study proved that IORT could be applied to Korean breast cancer patient.”
Professor Ahn said, “We will do our best to develop safe and effective breast cancer treatment methods such as building a database and expanding the scope of IORT.”
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment published the results of the study.