First in Mississippi: Breast cancer single dose radiation to reduce length of treatments

Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 5:31 PM CST
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(Editor’s note: This story was originally published January 29, 2021 at 6:51 PM CST - Updated January 29 at 8:16 PM on

FLOWOOD, Miss. (Great Health Divide) - Less intense breast cancer radiation treatment, practiced in Europe for two decades, is now available here in Mississippi.

Flowood is where single dose radiation treatment is being performed for the first time in the state. The process will reduce the number of times a patient undergoes radiation therapy.

Surgical oncologist Dr. Phillip Ley is now performing single dose intraoperative radiotherapy surgery at Merit Health Woman’s Hospital.

It is the first in the state, although the procedure is being conducted in other states in the U.S.

“It’s following trends of less radical therapy to achieve the same results,” said Ley. The procedure is called Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy or TARGIT-IORT.

It gives one dose of radiation during breast cancer surgery compared to five daily radiation treatments for up to six weeks.

“It involves insertion of an applicator into the lumpectomy cavity at time of surgery,” said the surgeon and member of the Fellow of American College Surgeons. “Treatment times range from 17 minutes up to 47, 48 minutes depending upon the size of the applicator used.”

Candidates for the procedure are stage one and two breast cancer patients, 45 years and older with tumors three centimeters and smaller with negative lymph nodes.

Findings of a study were recently published in the British Medical Journal.

“In over 3,000 patients worldwide demonstrated that survival and recurrence rates were not inferior to that achieved with whole breast radiation given over four to six weeks,” said Ley.

The international faculty member, who teaches octoplasty breast surgery, performed the procedure on three patients last week with three more planned for next week.

“All the patients did well. Two of them went home that day,” added Ley. “A third went home the next day because she had a octoplastical procedure to reshape her breasts.”

According to doctors, the one time treatment can eliminate the need for repeated long distance travel for treatment and increased exposure to COVID-19.

Great Health Divide is an initiative addressing health disparities in the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia funded in part by the Google News Initiative.

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