[Intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) in treatment of breast carcinoma—a new therapeutic alternative within the scope of breast-saving therapy? Current status and future prospects. Report of experiences from the European Institute of Oncology (EIO), Mailand]

W Gatzemeier, R Orecchia, G Gatti, M Intra, U Veronesi
Strahlentherapie und Onkologie: Organ der Deutschen Röntgengesellschaft ... [et Al] 2001, 177 (7): 330-7

BACKGROUND: External beam radiation therapy (EBRT) represents an integral component of breast-conserving treatment. In published series it has been demonstrated that the external boost can be replaced by intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) where irradiation at a single dose from 10 up to 15 Gy was safely delivered directly to the tumor bed.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: At the European Institute of Oncology, Milan, we initiated a dose escalation study to investigate the feasibility of applying single doses of IORT from 10 Gy up to 22 Gy. A portable IORT equipment with different electron energies was used. From July to December 1999, a total of 65 patients with T1-2 (max. 2.5 cm) No-1 breast cancer, median age 58 years (range 33-80 years) was treated. Ten patients received 10 Gy, eight patients were treated with an IORT of 15 Gy, eight received 17 Gy, six had 19 Gy, and 33 were treated with 21-22 Gy. Patients with 10 and 15 Gy received an additional EBRT of 44 and 40 Gy, respectively. In all other patients IORT was the sole radiation treatment.

RESULTS: No acute side effects or intermediate untoward effects after a follow-up from three to nine months related to IORT were observed.

CONCLUSIONS: Since the applicator can be safely placed under the control of the surgeon and radiotherapist IORT has the potential of accurately treating the tumor bed. Skin and subcutaneous tissue are not irradiated thus decreasing the potential risk of fibrosis and eventually obtaining a better cosmesis. With IORT single doses of 22 Gy being equivalent to a 60 Gy EBRT can safely be delivered. Even so the average time of operation was prolonged by around 20 minutes IORT application ultimately improves the quality of life of the patients in shortening overall treatment. Long-term follow-up is necessary to demonstrate whether large single doses of IORT might have the potential of sufficient local tumor control without major side effects. As a future perspective a randomized trial comparing EBRT with IORT as sole treatment will be performed.

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