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New treatment that targets cancer cells

Since her diagnosis of breast cancer a few months ago, 72-year-old Agra resident Vidhya Agarwal’s family was worried about how she would take to radiation therapy. HT reports.

mumbai Updated: Aug 24, 2011 01:03 IST
HT Correspondent

Since her diagnosis of breast cancer a few months ago, 72-year-old Agra resident Vidhya Agarwal’s family was worried about how she would take to radiation therapy.

Doctors had advised removing her breast, after which Agarwal would need 25 to 30 sessions of external radiation treatment over six weeks to rule out the risk of recurrence of cancer. But on Tuesday, 20 days after she was operated on, Agarwal was relieved that she had not lost her breast.

On August 3, doctors at SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim, performed a conservative breast surgery on Agarwal saving her breast and completing her radiation in an hour. Agarwal was discharged from the hospital on the third day after her surgery.

This was done with the help of Intra Operative Radiotherapy Treatment, of which Agarwal is the first recipient in India. (IORT), wherein a concentrated dose of radiation was delivered to the cancerous tumour site after the 2.5 cm tumour was surgically removed.

Normally, to ensure that all cancer cells are destroyed and chances of recurrence are minimised, a patient would have to go through 25 to 30 sessions of external radiation.

“With IORT, it was possible to avoid complete removal of her breast and only remove the cancerous growth. After surgery there is no need for any additional external radiotherapy for the patient. The span of treatment was reduced from six weeks to 48 hours,” said Dr Sanjay Sharma, surgical oncologist.

IORT is ideal for breast cancers detected early (tumours less than 3 cm), said doctors.