New breast cancer treatment in Cedar Rapids - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New breast cancer treatment in Cedar Rapids


A new procedure for breast cancer patients offered at St. Luke's hospital in Cedar Rapids is part of an international clinical trial headquartered in Austria.

"You protect the skin," said Robert Brimmer, General Surgeon.  "The skin is no longer involved. You retract the skin so that the treatment, the cone goes right into the breast tissue."

Intraoperative radiation therapy uses the radiation that's been treating breast cancer for 40 years, but instead of targeting the whole breast it hits the area directly around the tumor.

It's used following a lumpectomy and preserves the natural shape of the breast.

"It allows the breast to be molded back into the optimal shape," said Brimmer.

Research shows that 90% of breast cancer recurrences happen within two centimeters of the original tumor.

That's what this treatment is specifically designed to prevent.

"Now we have a method of giving radiation, using again, the standard electrons that can control the dose, and the depth of treatment very well," said Brimmer.

The treatment reduces the amount of post surgery radiation from six weeks to three, which also saves a patient money.

The hospital started offering the procedure last week and so far three patients tried it.

The negative side of intraoperative radiation therapy is that since it's a trial, doctors can't prove it will work better than another treatment but they're hopeful.

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