IORT new breast cancer treatment

St John of God Subiaco Hospital has become the first private hospital in Australia to introduce a revolutionary radiation treatment for breast cancer, called Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT), in partnership with Australia’s largest radiation oncology provider GenesisCare.

21 Feb 2020

St John of God Subiaco CEO Prof Shirley Bowen with Donors and St John of God Foundation CEO Bianca Pietralla

The Intraoperative Radiation Therapy (IORT) equipment purchase was funded through the philanthropic support and generosity of a select group of St John of God Foundation donors, including the Carcione Foundation.

IORT is suitable for select women with early breast cancer. It reduces treatment time from three to four weeks of daily radiation to a single, targeted treatment administered while a patient is undergoing surgery to remove the cancer.

After a patient’s tumour is removed by a surgeon, and before the incision is closed, radiation is strategically delivered to the area where the tumour was located by a radiation oncologist. This provides a precise therapeutic dose to the location where local recurrence is most likely to occur.

Radiation is applied for 20 to 30 minutes, targeting tissue in the tumour bed from the inside, while minimising healthy tissue exposure to radiation.

St John of God Subiaco Hospital specialists currently trained in the use of IORT include Breast Surgeons Prof Christobel Saunders AO and Dr Lee Jackson, and GenesisCare Radiation Oncologists Dr Yvonne Zissiadis and Dr Margaret Latham. A number of the hospital’s other Breast Surgeons will undertake IORT training in March to ensure the treatment is available to more patients.

Prof Saunders said “This new procedure offers many patient benefits.”

“IORT offers a tailored, precise and localised treatment option for suitable early stage breast cancer patients. It also offers significant convenience to eligible patients.”

“By dramatically reducing treatment time and minimising side effects such as skin irritation, patients can spend more time and effort focusing on their recovery and can resume daily activities sooner, which we know can help to bring back a sense of normality.”

“IORT is particularly beneficial to full-time working women and also to rural patients who previously had to arrange and pay for accommodation for extended periods of time when coming to Perth to receive treatment.”

St John of God Subiaco Hospital CEO Prof Shirley Bowen added “We are currently the only private healthcare facility in Australia offering IORT and are pleased to be leading the way in breast cancer care.”

“Our investment in IORT reflects our commitment to innovation and to ensuring that our cancer patients have access to the latest treatments and therapies.”

GenesisCare Radiation Oncologist Dr Yvonne Zissiadis said “We are delighted to be partnering with St John of God Subiaco Hospital to offer this highly targeted treatment option for suitable early stage breast cancer patients.”

“At GenesisCare we are committed to ensuring our patients receive personalised care using the latest advancements in radiation therapy, and we are proud to be increasing access to this treatment in Western Australia.”

Major donor The Carcione Family added “Our family has had a strong connection with St John of God Subiaco Hospital for more than 30 years.

“It’s a pleasure to be able to give back to the hospital and to the community, a value which was installed in us by our father.”

Visit our IORT service information

For more information about the St John of God Foundation and how you can help the not-for-profit organisation improve healthcare in the community, please visit