First Intraoperative Radiation Therapy Center in Africa: First 2 Years in Operation, Including COVID-19 Experiences

There is a shortage of radiation therapy service centers in low- to middle-income countries. TARGIT–intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT) may offer a viable alternative to improve radiation treatment efficiency and alleviate hospital patient loads. The Breast Care Unit in Johannesburg became the first facility in Africa to offer TARGIT-IORT, and the purpose of this study was to present a retrospective review of patients receiving IORT at this center between November 2017 and May 2020.

Patient selection criteria were based mainly on the latest American Society of Radiation Oncology guidelines. Selection criteria included early-stage breast carcinoma (luminal A) and luminal B with negative upfront sentinel lymph node biopsy that negated external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Patient characteristics, reasons for choosing IORT, histology, and use of oncoplastic surgery that resulted in complications were recorded.

One hundred seven patients successfully received IORT/TARGIT-IORT. Mean age was 60.8 years (standard deviation, 9.3 years). A total of 73.8% of patients presented with luminal A, 15.0% with luminal B, and 5.6% with triple-negative cancer. One patient who presented with locally advanced breast cancer (T4N2) opted for IORT as a boost in addition to planned EBRT. Eighty-seven patients underwent wide local excision (WLE) with mastopexy, and 12 underwent WLE with parenchymal. Primary reasons for selecting IORT/TARGIT-IORT were distance from the hospital (43.9%), choice (40.2%), and age (10.3%).

This retrospective study of IORT/TARGIT-IORT performed in Africa confirms its viability, with low complication rates and no detrimental effects with breast conservation, resulting in positive acceptance and the potential to reduce Oncology Center patient loads. Limitations of the study include the fact that only short-term data on local recurrence were available. Health and socioeconomic value models must still be addressed in the African setting.

Impact of Delaying Surgery After Chemoradiation in Rectal Cancer: Outcomes From a Tertiary Cancer Centre in India

Delaying surgery after chemoradiation is one of the strategies for increasing tumor regression in rectal cancer. Tumour regression and PCR are known to have positive impact on survival.
It’s a retrospective study of 161 patients undergoing surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (NCRT) for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Patients were divided into three categories based on the gap between NCRT and surgery, i.e., 12 weeks. Tumor regression grades (TRG), sphincter preservation, post-operative morbidity-mortality and survival were evaluated.
Sphincter preservation was significantly less in >12 weeks group compared to the other two groups (P=0.003). Intraoperative blood loss was significantly higher in >12 weeks group compared to 8-12 weeks group (P=0.001).There was no difference in major postoperative morbidity and hospital stay among the groups. There was no significant correlation between delay and TRG (P=0.644). At Median follow up of 49.5 months the projected 3-year overall survival (OS) and disease free survival (DFS) were not significantly different among the 3 groups (OS: 79.5% vs. 83.3% vs. 76.5%; P=0.849 and DFS 50.4% vs. 70.6% vs. 62%; P=0.270 respectively).
Delaying surgery by more than 12 weeks causes more blood loss but no change in morbidity or hospital stay. Increased time interval between radiation and surgery does not improve tumor regression and has no effect on survival.

The Hidden Risk of Ionizing Radiation in the Operating Room: A Survey Among 258 Orthopaedic Surgeons in Brazil

Background: This study aims to assess orthopaedic surgeon knowledge in Brazil about ionizing radiation and its health implications on surgical teams and patients.
Methods: A 15-question survey on theoretical and practical concepts of ionizing radiation was administered during the 23rd Brazilian Orthopaedic Trauma Association annual meeting. The survey addressed issues within orthopedic surgery, such as radiation safety concepts, protection, exposure, as well as the participant gender. Participants were either orthopedic surgeons or orthopedic surgery residents working at institutions in Brazil.
Results: One thousand surveys were distributed at the moment of the meeting registration, and 258 were answered completely (25.8% response rate). Only 5.8% of participants used basic radiation protection equipment; 47.3% used a dosimeter; 2.7% reached the annual maximum permissible radiation dose; 10.5% knew the period of increased risk to fetal gestation; 5.8% knew the maximum permissible radiation dose during pregnancy; 58.5% knew that the hands, eyes, and thyroid are the most exposed areas and at greater risk of radiation-related lesions; 25.2% knew the safe distance from a radiation-emitting tube is 3 m or more; 44.2% knew the safest positioning of the radiation-emitting tube; 25.2% knew that smaller tubes emit greater radiation at the entrance dose to magnify the image; and 55.4% knew that the surgery team receives more scattered radiation in surgical procedures performed on obese patients.
Conclusion: This study revealed inadequate theoretical and practical knowledge about radiation exposure among orthopaedic surgeons in Brazil. Only a minority of orthopaedic surgeons used basic radiation protection equipment. No significant differences in knowledge were found when comparing all orthopedic surgery specialties. Our findings indicate an urgent need for education to increase knowledge among orthopaedic surgeons about the hazards of ionizing radiation. Personal protection and implementation of the ALARA (as low as reasonably achievable) protocol in daily practice are important behaviors to prevent the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.