Higher dose radiation for breast cancer safe and effective and halves the number of treatments

A team of UK and US researchers have found that it is possible to halve the number of treatments by giving higher doses of radiotherapy at each visit with results, after 10 years, at least as good as standard methods.

The preliminary findings that 13 larger doses was as safe and as effective at preventing cancer from returning as the standard regime of 25 small doses, could lead to simpler and more effective radiotherapy treatment and save money.

The 10-year trial was funded by Cancer Research UK and was a collaborative effort between the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the Gloucestershire Oncology Centre, the Institute of Cancer Research and the University of Wisconsin.

The study involved 1,410 women who were received different radiotherapy treatments following a lumpectomy for early breast cancer.

The researchers say if these results are confirmed in the larger follow-up studies, it could mean better outcomes with less hospital visits for patients and an improvement in their quality of life.

It is currently common practice for patients to receive radiotherapy treatment once a day, from Monday to Friday, with a rest at the weekend, which entails patients travelling to hospital every weekday for a five week period.

A reduction in the number of hospital visits could lessen anxiety for such patients and save valuable time and money spent travelling to and from hospital.

In the study the women were randomly divided into three groups; one group was given the standard treatment of 25 doses of radiation totalling 50 grays (measurement of radiation) in five weeks; the other two groups were given 13 doses in the same period; one received a total of 39 grays, and the other 42.9 grays.

The researchers found that among the women in the first group, the 10-year risk of breast cancer returning was 12.1%; among the group who received 39 grays it was 14.8%, but among those who got the slightly higher dose of 42.9 grays it was 9.6%.

Lead researcher Professor John Yarnold suggests it should be possible to give fewer but higher daily doses of radiotherapy to the breast to prevent cancer from returning without harming the patient's healthy tissues.

Professor Yarnold says the results of further trials that have followed this study will need to be evaluated before they can confirm that the strategy is more effective than the standard treatment in the long term.

Experts have welcomed the findings and say the trial is important.

They say if confirmed it could mean better outcomes with less hospital visits and anything that improves a patient's experience of breast cancer treatment and is as effective as the current standard, with no increase in side effects, is to be welcomed.

The study is published in the current issue of the Lancet.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
You might also like...
Single drug compound may offer a promising new strategy for treating prostate cancer patients