New option at KU Health System cutting down treatment time for early stage breast cancer patients


KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Battling breast cancer can be a long process. Now, a new treatment at the University of Kansas Cancer Center can cut that time. This treatment aims to get as much done as possible in one day.

Betty Dickson takes cancer seriously. The Plattsburg woman said every year she gets herself checked out, including last September.

“I went not thinking or worried about a thing. And they just, you know, they kept checking and then they went back and rechecked and, and then they told me that they’d saw something,” Dickson said.

It was breast cancer in its earliest stage, and she got it checked out immediately. Her doctor with KU Health System told her about a new treatment: Intraoperative Radiation Therapy. Basically, you get radiation done during your surgery. Betty went through it in January.

“When patients are asleep under anesthesia, that makes up for 5-6 weeks of daily visits. So really, you are trading a relatively small amount of time in surgery for a lot of visits on the other end,” said Dr. Kelsey Larson, a breast surgical oncologist with the health system.

Larson said it also minimizes the toll radiation can take on your body. You go home the same day. 

Dickson said her family is grateful she recovered so quickly.

“They’ve all been behind me. They all thought it was great,” Dickson said.

Larson said this treatment works for early-stage cancer. Dickson is glad she continued diligently with her screenings.  

“Be sure and do all your screenings annually. Every year they tell you to, don’t skip them. ‘Cause if I’d have skipped this one, Lord knows what shape I would have been in,” Dickson said.

This is the first treatment of its kind in Kansas and Missouri. Doctors said it’s perfect for patients, especially during the pandemic, who don’t want to go out for treatments so often.

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