Denver hospital’s cutting edge breast cancer procedure reduces radiation treatments


Patient gets mammogram

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DENVER -- Thursday marked the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign designed to increase awareness of the disease.

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. this year.

And the Rose Medical Center in Denver is one of the leading facilities for a new cutting edge procedure that is much more efficient and convenient for patients.

Dr. Barbara Schwartzberg said it’s a one-day breast cancer treatment called Intraoperative Radiation Therapy. It’s an option for women with early stage breast cancer.

A single dose of radiation is administered at the time of the lumpectomy and that’s it — as opposed to traditional radiation therapy where the patient goes to as many as five treatments a week for up to eight weeks.

“My passion has been to trim the treatment to fit the patient so we’re not hitting them with a bazooka gun and that’s what this is all about," Schwartzberg said.

Sheila Smith is a patient and had the procedure a year-and-a-half ago, after a routine mammogram found she had cancer.

She said all of her research led her to Schwartzberg’s office and the IORT was a success.

“They do this all one hundred percent during the lumpectomy and they stitch you up and you’re done. It’s efficient, it’s effective and it gives you the ability to regain your life and move on through the cancer experience and be active," she said.

Some doctors, noting the long success record with conventional treatment, have been reluctant to adopt IORT.

But Schwartzberg points out it has been done in Europe for 20 years and she has done 200 procedures with equal success.

Smith said her advice to women is first, get a mammogram and then do your research so you can make the best treatment decision for you and your family.

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