Benefits of single shot intra-operative radiotherapy

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Published: 16 Jul 2019
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Dr Frank Giordano - UMM Universitätsmedizin Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

Dr Frank Giordano speaks to ecancer at the Global Health Catalyst Summit 2019 at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts about intra-operative radiotherapy.

He firstly describes how this radiotherapy is given, and some of the many benefits to taking this single shot of radiotherapy.

Dr Giordano describes how this will be useful in low and middle income countries, as it could mean that treatment is a lot more efficient for a certain subset of patients, but he emphasises that this is a very specific subset.


Benefits of single shot intra-operative radiotherapy

Dr Frank Giordano - UMM Universitätsmedizin Mannheim, Mannheim, Germany

I was giving an overview on intra-operative radiotherapy which is a special sub-form of radiotherapy. It’s where you treat the tumour bed where the surgeon was taking out the tumour and you are applying radiotherapy, therapeutic irradiation, to the tumour bed.

How is this research applied to GHCS?

There are several diseases, several tumour diseases, where a single shot of intra-operative radiotherapy might shorten or even might eliminate the need for classical external radiotherapy. I gave an overview on some of these indications where a single application of intra-operative radiotherapy might replace or shorten safe dose of external beam radiotherapy.

What benefits does this bring?

The idea is, first of all, to improve patient comfort because they don’t have to travel to a radiotherapy facility every day. Second, to shorten the overall treatment time of adjuvant add-on to a single shot. Third, to provide a treatment that is quite conveniently given during surgery, so you never come closer to the site where the tumour was than at this very moment. This allows you to give an ultra-high dose to the tumour bed which would not be possible with external beam radiotherapy even if you would apply it from multiple angles, from literally unlimited angles, from the outside. So these are the benefits.

What are the economic benefits?

Cost-wise it has the advantage that you not only save time of the patient, the patient can then do regular work, go back to work earlier, once there’s no need to travel to radiotherapy daily. For sure, it reduces treatment costs if you cut down radiotherapy to a single shot.

Any important messages?

We have to make sure that it’s clearly said that intra-operative radiotherapy can only replace external beam radiotherapy in a very, very specific subset of patients with breast cancer, brain tumours or spinal tumours. It’s not suitable for all patients with breast cancer, brain cancer, spine tumours. There’s a subset of patients that is eligible for that therapy and my goal is to identify this subset. We need more studies on this and we would like to announce that everyone is able to participate in our trials. It would be great if we could figure out which patient would not require the whole course of external beam therapy and which of those patients are simply well treated with a single shot.