A recent study suggests that women suffering from the early stages of breast cancer may benefit more from shorter, yet more intensive radiation treatment.Overall, the data revealed that those who received higher doses of whole breast radiation over a shorter period of time not only had fewer side effects than those who received it for a longer period of time, but they also had an improved quality of life.
“This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation”, study first author Dr. Simona Shaitelman, from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said in a center news release.
And the UT assistant professor of radiation oncology adds, “Most are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and are juggling a number of priorities. It’s paramount that we address this need”.
The study was published August. 6 in the journal JAMA Oncology.
The results showed that patients who received hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation presented 40 percent lower acute toxicity, compared to those who were treated with conventionally fractionated whole-breast irradiation. Now in the United States, it is common for breast cancer therapy to be strung out into many sessions with small doses, and only one third of the patients who should be using the higher-dosage treatments manage to receive it. However, this new study could be set to change that. According to the researchers of the new study, their findings should be imparted to women so as to enhance their power to make disease treatment decisions together with their doctors. All patients had undergone breast conserving surgery and were diagnosed with breast cancer stage 0 to 2. Randomly assigned to receive either of the two treatment regimens, they were evaluated for side effects and quality of life concerns based on both their own assessments and their doctors. Physicians assessed patient toxicities weekly during treatment and six months after completing radiation.
Dr. Stephanie Bernik is chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. For too long, she said, longer-course radiation treatment has been the standard.
“This study fills in a missing piece in the literature”, says Smith, the study’s corresponding author.
In the past, experts have found that hypofractionated whole-breast radiotherapy is safe and effective even in the long term; however, its short-term toxic effects are not well compared to standard fractionation.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer treatment.