Intrabeam Radiotherapy system recommended as a treatment for people with early breast cancer, but emphasis is placed on the need to continue to collect data on effectiveness and reoccurrence rates.

Whilst regular radiotherapy normally requires multiple doses over a period of several weeks, the Intrabeam system, produced by Zeiss, only requires a single 30 minute dose given at the same time as the surgery, removing the need for subsequent doses for most patients, and having potentially better cosmetic outcomes.

Zeiss’s marketing literature describes the process by which the Intrabeam system is used as part of the surgery to irradiate the tissue surrounding the excised tumour.

The results of the five year TARGIT-A trial, which finished in 2014, showed that targeted intraoperative radiotherapy using the Zeiss Intrabeam system on carefully selected patients was not clinically worse to traditional radiotherapy, and was superior in some areas such as deaths attributable to causes other than brea st cancer.

NICE’s recommendation has been given with some provisos, as it is unclear whether Intrabeam radiotherapy is as effective as conventional radiotherapy when it comes to the reoccurrence rate of the disease, but the committee believes that patients are likely to accept some uncertainty if it reduces the need for long term radiotherapy. The potential reduction in side effects and better cosmetic outcomes is also welcomed by patients.

Professor Carole Longson MBE, director of the centre for health technology evaluation at NICE described Intrabeam as a ‘promising new way of providing radiotherapy’ but stressed the need to gather further ‘information on its clinical effectiveness’.

The draft guidance is open for public consultation until 1 March.