Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)

Our radiologists are experts in intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to treat your breast cancer and lower your radiation exposure and risk of recurrence.

Our radiologists are experts in intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) to treat your breast cancer and lower your radiation exposure and risk of recurrence.

Intraoperative radiation therapy, (IORT), is a one-time, high-dose radiation treatment you receive at the time of your lumpectomy.

IORT is used to treat early-stage breast cancer and lower the risk of recurrence by targeting the area of the breast most at risk for recurrence while sparing healthy tissue and organs.

Who Benefits from Intraoperative Radiation Therapy?

IORT is not right for everyone. The success of the treatment depends on whether or not you are a good candidate for it. Your breast cancer team at Rush will discuss if IORT is right for you. You may be a good candidate if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are older than 60
  • You have early-stage breast cancer, with a small tumor
  • You do not have a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation
  • The cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy Treatment at Rush

You will be treated for breast cancer by a team of experts — including a medical oncologist, a radiation oncologist, a surgical oncologist and a psychologist — who will meet with you during your initial visit to determine if IORT is the right treatment for you.

If you have early-stage breast cancer and will be treated with IORT, you will receive a one-dose radiation treatment at the same time as lumpectomy surgery. This eliminates the need to return to the hospital daily for up to six weeks for radiation treatments after your surgery.

Working closely with your breast surgeon, your radiation oncologist will deliver the IORT treatment during your lumpectomy — adding about 30 minutes to your surgery time.

How IORT Works

  • After your surgeon removes the tumor, the radiation oncologist places a temporary saline-filled balloon in the area where the tumor was. The balloon has a small X-ray source that works to deliver the radiation.
  • Your radiation oncologist, working with a medical physicist, administers the radiation, which takes about 10 minutes. IORT delivers one precise, concentrated dose of radiation to the tumor site.
  • Your surgeon removes the balloon and completes the lumpectomy.

The Benefits of Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

  • Reduced treatment time: While your recovery time after lumpectomy with IORT is the same length as lumpectomy without it, IORT significantly reduces the time you spend receiving radiation.
  • Minimal side effects: IORT has fewer side effects than standard radiation.
  • Lower risk of reoccurrence: IORT has been found to lower the chances of your breast cancer coming back.
stethoscope Meet our intraoperative radiation therapy providers

Rush Excellence in Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

  • Nationally ranked experts focused on you: U.S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best the nation for cancer care. Our experts welcome your questions and will work with you to create a personalized treatment plan to improve your quality of life and well-being.
  • Targeted treatment with significant benefits: IORT delivers a precise, concentrated dose of radiation to the tumor site — where there is the highest risk for cancer recurrence — while also sparing healthy tissue and nearby organs. This means you will experience fewer side effects than standard radiation and spend significantly less time getting radiation.
  • Cutting-edge research: One of the first hospitals in the nation to offer IORT, Rush University Medical Center is part of a national clinical trial studying this innovative treatment. That means you have access to this advanced treatment you might not find elsewhere.
  • Treating the whole person: Our experts focus on the health of your body, mind and spirit during your breast cancer treatment with integrative (complementary) therapies like acupuncture and massage, as well as emotional and spiritual support services, nutrition counseling and financial support.
  • Follow-up care where — and when — you need it: Our top breast cancer specialists are available to see you at convenient locations, in Chicago, Lisle, Oak Brook, Oak Park and Aurora/Fox Valley.
  • Second opinion services: Rush offers second opinion services to help you explore all possible treatment options like IORT for breast cancer.

This option allows patients to return to their lives faster by potentially reducing the need for further therapies and enhancing their quality of life.

Andrea Madrigrano, MD, Breast Surgeon