Nightly News   |  June 17, 2013

Unique treatment for early stage breast cancer

Single dose intraoperative radiation was found to be just as effective as whole breast radiation at preventing breast cancer recurrence. The therapy delivers small amounts of radiation directly to the site of the lumpectomy cavity immediately following the removal of the tumor, which can be more convenient for patients. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> we're back with news of treatment of breast cancer that is highly effective in older women who are in the early stage of the disease. it seems to have lots of advantages, easier on patients, less costly, just as effective as older treatments. more on this tonight from chief medical editor, dr. nancy snyderman .

>> are you having any pain today?

>> reporter: 65-year-old jean hanlon diagnosed with early stage breast cancer .

>> i'm facing some anxiety because i'm facing surgery.

>> reporter: she's undergoing a lumpectomy. instead of weeks of recovery, the age and early stage of disease make her a perfect candidate for single dose intraoperative radiation therapy . it delivers small doses of radiation to the direct site, immediately following the removal of the tumor.

>> my goal is to come out feeling cancer free. i don't want to feel like a sick woman. i want to be the grandma that goes to the baseball field and watches her grandsons play baseball all summer.

>> reporter: this has been shown to be just as effective as whole breast radiation, a fraction of the cost and covered by insurance, limited side effects and easier on the patients.

>> it shortens the time period of radiation and reduces the amount of tissue that gets radiated.

>> reporter: dr. rob meyer and his team base on pathology reports. then the call comes. march begins are clear.

>> everything moving on quite smoothly.

>> reporter: and within minutes, the personalized radiation therapy is done. days later, back at the ballpark, rooting for her grand kids.

>> i absolutely feel wonderful.

>> reporter: for jean and many others, this means not weeks of radiation after cancer surgery, but time spent with family, feeling good and enjoying life. dr. nancy snyderman , nbc news, new york.