Breast Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)

Breast cancer treatment in 1 day

Early stage breast cancer treatment historically involves months of appointments, travel, interrupted schedules and an emotional time for patients and their families.  Patients of the Center for Cancer Care at Exeter Hospital with early stage breast cancer who meet specific criteria now have the ability to receive effective cancer treatment in just one day without months of disruption or anxiety in their daily lives.

The Center for Cancer Care at Exeter Hospital is one of a limited number of hospitals around the country to offer Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) for breast cancer, a new treatment option in which radiation treatment can be administered in a single dose at the time of surgery.

Exeter Hospital is the first hospital in New Hampshire to adopt the Xoft Axxent® eBx™ electronic brachytherapy system for IORT, enabling doctors to administer a high dose of radiation to the tumor bed during a lumpectomy. IORT reduces or eliminates the need for follow-up radiation treatments and also minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue and organs, such as the ribs, lungs, heart and opposite breast. The current standard of care for early stage breast cancer consists of lumpectomy, medical therapy, and a five to seven week course of daily Whole Breast External Beam Radiation Therapy (WBEBRT) delivered by linear accelerators inside a heavily shielded room. With IORT, a single dose of intraoperative radiation may be as effective in treating the tumor as 10–20 daily radiation doses. 


(L-R) Diane Palladino, MD, Core General and Vascular Surgery; Roderick Mckee, MD, Core General and Vascular Surgery; and Gary Proulx, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at the Center for Cancer Care.


“This is one of the most exciting new breast cancer treatment options in recent years,” said Diane Palladino, MD, Core Physicians, a breast surgeon at Exeter Hospital. “Patients who meet the criteria for this treatment go from the prospect of a six-week treatment to completing both surgery and radiation treatment in one day and is most cases patients are able return home the same day as surgery.”

“I always knew this new technology had the best potential to deliver radiation in the operating room safely and effectively to the patient,” said Gary Proulx, MD, of the Center for Cancer Care. “Now we have the evidence showing it with the results of medical trials. Patients have as good if not potentially better outcomes with this treatment and I am thrilled to be able to be the first and only cancer program in the region to offer this treatment.”

Nancy, a 78-year-old Seacoast woman, who was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in late September, opted to try the new treatment when she learned she was a good candidate. She went home the same day as her surgery and was amazed at how quickly she recovered from the procedure.

“I felt great almost immediately. I really anticipated being uncomfortable and I really was not,” said Nancy. “It is so nice not to have to make those return trips to the hospital for ongoing radiation treatments.”