Specialties

  • Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

  • Intraoperative radiation therapy in Littleton, Colorado

    Colorado's First Zeiss Intrabeam Technology.

    Littleton Adventist Hospital introduced Colorado's first Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), an innovative form of radiation therapy for breast cancer patients with small, early-stage tumors. The treatment is called intraoperative radiation therapy because it can be given during a lumpectomy operation shortly after the tumor is removed. IORT can also be done as a second procedure if a patient prefers to have a lumpectomy at another hospital and then come to Littleton Adventist Hospital for the radiation portion of the treatment.

    The localized procedure, which is administered for 20 to 30 minutes, delivers radiation precisely to the tumor site with minimal exposure to surrounding tissues, which are shielded during the IORT. The procedure destroys microscopic tumor cells, reducing the risk that tumor cells will grow back.

    Littleton Adventist Hospital chose the Zeiss INTRABEAM ® IORT system because it is backed by more than 13 years of successful clinical use, having treated more than 8,000 patients with early breast cancer. The system was also used in the highly reputable TARGIT-A Trial. The TARGIT-A Trial is the largest randomized clinical trial in the field of IORT. After the trial, researchers concluded that INTRABEAM IORT (concurrent with lumpectomy) should be considered as an option for certain patients with breast cancer as an alternative to postoperative traditional external beam radiotherapy (EBRT).

    Compared to EBRT, INTRABEAM IORT offers several significant advantages: It directly targets the tumor bed with radiation, while minimizing radiation to healthy tissue; it can be administered concurrently with the lumpectomy, allowing less time for tumor cells to grow back; it can be administered in one day so it offers the potential for significantly faster recovery time and a return to your every day activities sooner; and it can be used in conjunction with a standard EBRT regimen as an additional boost treatment. Benefits of boost treatments include: very low recurrence rates, low rate of side effects, and very good cosmetic results.

    Compared to EBRT, Zeiss INTRABEAM ® IORT offers the potential for:

    • A significantly faster treatment time - from an average of six weeks to a single dose during surgery?
    • Reduced radiation exposure beyond the target site, sparing healthy breast tissue and surrounding organs?
    • A 'boost' option available for patients undergoing traditional EBRT regimens
    • Highly targeted radiation dose to help prevent tumors from growing back
    • Faster recovery and return to your everyday activities


    As an NAPBC comprehensive breast cancer center, we believe the Littleton Adventist Hospital IORT program is consistent with our mission to improve care and quality of life for our breast cancer patients. The multidisciplinary program includes breast surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, medical physicists, surgical staff, and nurse navigators.

  • Darlene Bugoci, MD
    Medical Director of
    Intraoperative Radiation Therapy

    Dr. Darlene Bugoci is board certified in Radiation Oncology. She is experienced in the use of radiation therapy as part of breast cancer treatment. She has a special interest in research. As medical director for IORT at Littleton Adventist Hospital she shares a passion with colleagues to find innovative treatments for breast cancer patients.

    Intraoperative radiation therapy in Littleton, ColoradoEarlier this fall, Littleton Adventist Hospital debuted a new treatment option for breast cancer patients: intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT).

    IORT is a radiation treatment delivered during a one- or two-step process: either immediately following removal of a malignant tumor from the breast or in a separate procedure performed later. Radiation applied for 20 to 30 minutes on the area once occupied by a tumor helps rid it of cancer.

    “The goal of IORT is to improve localized breast tumor control and increase survival rates for patients with breast cancer,”says Ellen Buchannan, RN, FNP, CBCN, breast care program coordinator at Littleton Hospital. “The treatment has been shown to produce results equivalent to those achieved after several weeks of wholebreast radiation therapy.”

    According to Buchannan, candidates for IORT are patients older than 45 who have early-stage, invasive, ductal breast cancerthat has not spread to the lymph nodes.
    A patient’s tumor must also be smaller than 3 centimeters.

    Exciting Benefits for Patients

    “If a patient decides to have a lumpectomy, her medical team will present IORT as an option if she meets the necessary criteria,” Buchannan says. “Radiation is delivered during surgery or a second procedure; the latter option allows the physician to be sure the margins left after surgery are free of cancer cells.”

    IORT benefits patients by limiting radiation exposure to healthy structures and minimizing side effects, such as skin irritation. Instead of having daily radiation treatments for as many as six weeks, IORT patients undergo a single treatment.

    - See more at: IORT In the News