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Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)


The Xoft System for Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT)

The Xoft System control arm.

Our breast cancer team at Poudre Valley Hospital, part of University of Colorado Health, was the first in the Rocky Mountain region to perform a new procedure, called intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), that will fundamentally improve the experiences of patients undergoing breast cancer therapy.

Dr. Joshua Petit, Medical Director of the Radiation Oncology program, and his surgical colleagues completed the first IORT procedure for breast cancer in 2011 using the new Xoft Electronic Brachytherapy System.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact our radiation oncology team: 970.482.3328

Here’s why this new procedure steps ahead of the current methods of treating breast cancer.

Historically, breast cancer patients have undergone lumpectomy (removal of the tumor), followed by six weeks of daily radiation therapy using external beams from a linear accelerator that provides radiation to eradicate cancerous cells that may have been left behind after the surgery. Studies have confirmed for decades that radiation therapy significantly reduces the risk of cancer recurrence, and so this has remained the standard of care.

However, the frequent application of radiation therapy can have a significant impact on the lifestyle, emotions and physical health of a patient. It means patients must make frequent journeys into a medical office when, perhaps, what they really want to do instead is remain home and rest.

" Radiation has always been a little scary to me, but the fact that the technicians could stay in the room with me during treatments increased my comfort level tremendously." Mrs. S. W.

For patients who live outside of a community where radiation therapy is available, travel time is needed, and this places a challenge on them and their families. All in all, frequent radiation therapy can be life-saving, but it also puts the patient at risk for more stress, tiredness and inconvenience.

In the IORT procedure, the surgeon removes the tumor and then secures a special balloon device in the surgical cavity while the patient is still asleep on the operating room table.

Under the supervision and guidance of a trained radiation oncologist, like Dr. Petit, the balloon device delivers focused radiation directly to the area previously occupied by the tumor—the area where cancerous cells may have unavoidably been left behind. Next, the balloon device is completely removed from the patient. After the balloon device is removed from the patient, the surgical incision is closed in a routine procedure. The patient wakes up with no balloon device or indication that the IORT procedure was performed.

Any woman choosing lumpectomy may be now a candidate for IORT. Dr. Petit recommends that women consult their physician about this treatment option.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact our radiation oncology team:


2121 E. Harmony Road, Suite 160
Fort Collins, CO 80528


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