Doctor taking blood pressure of patient.

Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)

At Providence, our cancer treatments are personalized to meet the needs of each patient. To manage different cancers, we’ve added intraoperative radiation therapy to our array of cancer treatments.

Intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) is a type of cancer treatment. It uses a portable linear accelerator, called a Mobetron, to administer a single high dosage of radiation to a tumor during surgery.

Used primarily for early stage breast cancer, the IORT helps eliminate cancer cells and reduce tumor size directly, potentially replacing the need for five to six weeks of external radiation therapy.

Because the treatment takes place during surgery, IORT also allows doctors to accurately deliver more focused high-dose radiation while decreasing the risk of missing the tumor. This helps reduce harm to vital organs and minimizes side effects to healthy tissue.

Intraoperative radiation therapy takes place during tumor removal surgery. It can often add up to 45 minutes of time to your procedure. Patients are under sedation during this time.

During your surgery (often a lumpectomy), a tube called a collimator is inserted into your cancer site to help direct the radiation provided by the Mobetron. The Mobetron docks with the collimator and provides one to two minutes of radiation. The radiation helps eliminate residual cancer cells without the need for weeks of radiation therapy.

The most important risk to be aware of is the fact that your body is being exposed to short bursts of radiation. Fortunately, with the advancement of cancer treatment, doctors are able to accurately target tumors while minimizing radiation exposure and sparing vital adjacent organs.

Because IORT takes place during surgery, there is also a risk of surgical complications such as postoperative pain, bleeding, infection and soreness.