Breast cancer trial cuts therapy by weeks

Australian breast cancer patients will be among the first in the world to be treated with a new form of radiation therapy that is completed in just eight minutes, not weeks.


At the moment breast cancer patients are required to make dozens of trips to hospital over several weeks to receive radiation therapy after surgery to remove cancerous tissue.

However intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) delivers concentrated radiation in a single dose during a lumpectomy.

As part of an international trial in partnership with the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Monash Health, about 50 Victorian breast cancer patients will be treated with IORT using the Xoft Axxent Electronic Brachytherapy System.

According to manufacturer iCAD, IORT with the Xoft System allows radiation oncologists and breast surgeons to work together to administer one precise dose of radiation to a tumour site at the time of surgery.

It can be completed in as little as eight minutes, making it possible to replace six to eight weeks of traditional radiation therapy with a single treatment

In March, Monash Cancer Centre became the first medical centre in Australia to adopt the Xoft System and four women have already received the treatment as part of the phase four trial.

Dr Jane Fox from Monash Health says IORT will offer women with early-stage breast cancer another treatment option and a “better patient experience”.

“We are encouraged by the research to date as the global community of treatment centres continues to provide appropriate patients with the unique option to complete a full dose of radiation therapy in a single treatment,” Dr Fox said.