OHSU Knight Cancer Institute Offers Unique, Powerful Treatment for Cancer Patients

12/21/09  Portland, Ore.

Intrabeam System is One of Just Six in the United States

Oregon Health & Science University's Knight Cancer Institute radiation oncology department is the first in the Pacific Northwest to use a dedicated intraoperative radiotherapy device. The Intrabeam® device delivers a high dose of radiation directly to the tumor bed, sparing healthy tissue, and accelerating treatment. The surgeon removes the tumor and then directly places the Intrabeam® applicator into the tumor bed. By administering the prescribed dose to that site, the highest dose is concentrated within the tissue adjacent to the applicator surface. Intrabeam® therapy may be used for completion of all radiation treatment at the time of surgery, or as a boost for whole breast treatment. This saves weeks for patients and doctors. The cost to patients is equivalent to post-operative radiation treatment. Following the treatment delivery, the applicator and miniature X-ray source are removed, the surgical site is closed, and the procedure is complete. The high dose rate, low energy X-ray profile requires minimal shielding for personnel in the operating room.

Carol Marquez, M.D., an associate professor of radiation oncology and Arpana Naik, M.D., an assistant professor of surgical oncology in the OHSU School of Medicine and director of OHSU's breast cancer clinic, led the operating team in this pioneering effort during surgery on a breast cancer patient.  This novel procedure is now operational exclusively at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute's clinical cancer program.

Breast cancer survivor Elaine Kapinos is the first at OHSU to benefit from the Intrabeam® device. Dr. Arpana Naik called Mrs. Kapinos shortly after her diagnosis to tell her she fit the profile of someone who could benefit from the Intrabeam® during her lumpectomy.

"It didn't take long for me to say yes, I mean, why wouldn't I?" she says. "It's done elsewhere, and I feel very lucky to have (Dr. Naik) as a surgeon and be there in the breast center."

According to her physicians, Mrs. Kapinos' surgery went perfectly. One Intrabeam® treatment covered a number of traditional radiation treatments for her. "It's painless," she says. "It doesn't affect recuperation, and if I can eliminate 8 day trips to the hospital for radiation, that's great for me, and for the doctors. More time for all of us, and I save money on gas."

"By placing the source of the radiation directly in the surgical cavity, other tissues like the overlying skin and the rest of the breast are not treated with radiation.  By having the surgeon place the applicator, you can be certain that the radiation is delivered to the correct location," says Carol Marquez, M.D.

"This is further evidence of OHSU's commitment to being leaders in patient-friendly implementation of emerging technology in radiotherapy," says Dr. Charles R. Thomas, Jr., M.D., Chairman of the Department of Radiation Medicine.

The Intrabeam®system is used during surgery, primarily for breast cancer and brain tumor patients.  

The nearest Intrabeam® device to OHSU is in San Franscisco.

About the Knight Cancer Institute

With the latest treatments, technologies, hundreds of research studies and approximately 400 clinical trials, the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute is the only cancer center between Sacramento and Seattle designated by the National Cancer Institute — an honor earned only by the nation's top cancer centers. The honor is shared among the more than 650 doctors, nurses, scientists and staff who work together at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute to reduce the impact of cancer.

About OHSU

The Oregon Health & Science University is the state's only health and research university, and Oregon's only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. OHSU serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.