SHARECOMMENTMORE

AVON LAKE -- Joanne Duffy learned she had breast cancer by a fluke. She was having stent surgery for a clogged heart artery when a CAT scan picked up a lump in her breast.

It was early stage breast cancer and she qualified for a new type of treatment that combines surgery and radiation together. Instead of six weeks of radiation, Joanne had one dose during surgery.

"It was an ideal situation for me because it was done 1-2-3 and I wouldn't even be aware of receiving the radiation,"Joanne said.

"The radiation device is placed inside the lumpectomy cavity. It takes an additional thirty to forty minutes during surgery. The catheter is removed and the treatment is complete," said Dr. Stephanie Valente, of the Cleveland Clinic.

For Joanne, radiation exposure to her heart was a concern that intra-operative radiation therapy solved.

"(It) focuses the radiation to one or two centimeters around the lumpectomy cavity so not exposing the rest of the breast tissue to harmful effects of radiation or exposing the heart and lungs," said Valente.

Currently, candidates for this treatment are women over 60 with early stage breast cancer.

Another benefit is in line with the Affordable Care Act: Traditional radiation costs about $10,000, while the one dose from intra-operative radiation costs less than $2,000.