Helping Patients Navigate Precision Breast IORT Study

Since April 2015, University of Virginia Health System breast surgical oncologist Shayna Showalter, MD, has been leading a study examining the efficacy of Precision Breast IORT (IRB #18004), a unique form of intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) developed at UVA used for early-stage breast cancer. Precision Breast IORT incorporates CT imaging and high-dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy to deliver a customized dose of radiation directed to the area of the breast where the tumor was removed, while sculpting the dose away from the breast, lung and skin.

The phase II study has enrolled 120 women ages 45 and older with stage 0 or stage 1 breast cancer. “The goal is to enroll 290 women total,” says Showalter. Recruitment is ongoing at UVA and the study is now enrolling participants at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia as well.

In addition, Showalter hired a nurse care coordinator specifically to assist patients treated with Precision Breast IORT. “We hired a care coordinator last year to make the entire process more efficient for the patient,” says Showalter. “This has allowed us to provide concierge-level personalized care.”

“I am with patients every step of the way,” says Debbie Romano, RN, care coordinator for the breast IORT program. “I meet with them to determine their eligibility and, once they decide to participate, I follow them through the entire process. I help them schedule appointments, I take their calls when they have questions and, for patients who may be coming from far away, I can help them with more practical things like lodging.”

Romano is also a resource for referring providers who wish to discuss a patient’s eligibility, learn more about Precision Breast IORT or to make a referral. She can be reached at 434-297-4041 or by email at DAR9M@virginia.edu.