Wesley Healthcare
August 09, 2017

WICHITA – Wesley Medical Center is the first – and only – hospital in Kansas to offer a new breakthrough treatment option for patients with early-stage breast cancer.  The procedure, called intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), is a one-day breast cancer treatment option that offers multiple patient benefits, including added convenience, fewer treatments and reduced costs.

For women meeting selection criteria, IORT allows radiation oncologists and breast cancer surgeons to work together to deliver a full, concentrated dose of radiation in one day at the time of lumpectomy, targeting cancer cells and sparing healthy tissue, such as the heart, lungs and ribs. Traditional breast cancer treatment typically involves daily radiation treatment five days per week for up to eight weeks.

For patients like Sammie Lou Reif, who is one of the first people in Kansas to be treated using IORT at Wesley Medical Center, it was a great option since she lives in rural Kansas.

“I was excited to only have one treatment and just in the area where the cancer was,” said Reif, who is a retired school teacher from Ellinwood. “I said ‘yes’ immediately and it was the way to go. I have not had any issues so far.”

Reif was treated with IORT on May 31.

“Many of my patients live many miles from radiation centers and sometimes have to make decisions about mastectomy because the radiation associated with the lumpectomy is too far away,” said Therese Cusick, MD, a breast surgeon with Breast Care Specialists. “Four hours round trip on a daily basis could mean losing a job or be very challenging to family. This allows women in rural Kansas the opportunity for breast conservation if they meet the criteria."

The $500,000 IORT system uses a miniaturized X-ray source, which is inserted into a flexible balloon-shaped applicator, then temporarily placed inside the lumpectomy cavity. A full course of radiation is then administered in a single dose, lasting as little as eight minutes, which directly targets cancer cells.

“Some women, such as those who are in the workforce or caretakers for their families, may find it difficult to finish a course of treatment that requires multiple visits,” said Christina Nicholas, MD, a breast surgeon with Kansas Surgical Consultants.  “As IORT typically requires only one dose of radiation, patients are able to return to their normal daily activities within days rather than weeks.”

Earlier this year, Wesley Medical Center was accredited by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) – part of the American College of Surgeons – underscoring its commitment to providing comprehensive, high-quality, and multidisciplinary patient-centered care. To earn this gold standard for oncology, Wesley met 34 required quality-care standards, proving the hospital is committed to improving the survival and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of care.

Being a CoC-accredited cancer center means Wesley takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists and other cancer specialists. This multidisciplinary partnership results in improved patient care.

“The addition of the Intraoperative Radiation Therapy to Wesley Medical Center is advancing breast cancer care in the community and the state of Kansas,” said Phu Truong, MD, medical director of Wesley Cancer Care and a medical oncologist/hematologist with Cancer Center of Kansas. “Having a CoC accredited hospital allows for these types of innovative technology and advanced medical therapies to be more readily available to women and patients across the heartland.”