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Breast Cancer: Shorter Radiation Therapy vs Longer

  • Posted on November 9, 2022
  • News
  • By Akta Yadav

Breast Cancer Awareness Month has just concluded in October. To aware the masses about the disease and its most important treatment- Radiation Therapy, here are some necessary points that demand attention from everyone for themselves or their loved ones.

Breast Cancer has become a significant disease in this modern hectic lifestyle. Going by its prevalence in women it is very important to have very specific and accurate knowledge of the therapies used for the treatment of this disease.

Recent studies in the field reveal that shorter courses of more intense radiation therapy are as effective as longer courses of lower-dose therapy for treating early-stage breast cancer.

The research could result in patients only requiring three weeks of radiation therapy following a lumpectomy as opposed to the usual four to six weeks.

According to previous research, radiation treatment lasting three weeks is just as safe and efficient as longer treatment plans for patients who have a low risk of tumor recurrence.

The latest study concluded that the same holds for patients who are eligible for breast-conserving therapy but have a higher risk of tumor recurrence because of slightly larger tumor size or other factors.

Breast Cancer: Shorter Radiation Therapy vs Longer

According to a press release from Vicini, who presented his research at the recent American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) Annual Meeting, "Three weeks of radiation after lumpectomy is just as effective for patients who have a higher risk of recurrence as it is for lower-risk patients." This method reduces the length of their treatment by half.

The likelihood of a tumor returning in the breast is reduced by 20 to 30% by adding a radiation boost, but doing so after hypofractionated radiation therapy extends the course of treatment by one week, according to Vinci. "This can be difficult for patients who have to miss time from work or travel a long way for treatment."

"I expect that the results of this study will be embraced by many of us who treat patients with breast cancer, as a shorter treatment schedule has a positive impact on equity in cancer care delivery and patient quality of life," said Dr. Rachel Jimenez, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School and the department's chair for quality and safety.

According to Dr. Dorraya El-Ashry, chief scientific officer at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, "this study reveals a promising avenue to reduce the burden of treatment on patients by improving quality of life while achieving the same outcomes."

We are constantly working to help patients live fuller lives without compromising the quality of care, even though we still need more validation to have an impact on clinical care.

What are the pros and cons of radiation treatment?

The group of patients who received conventional whole breast radiation over four to five weeks, followed by a boost to the lumpectomy site delivered over six to seven days, as compared to the group who received hypofractionated whole breast radiation over three weeks with the boost to the surgical site delivered concurrently over those three weeks.

Compared to the conventional treatment group, which experienced a tumor recurrence rate of about 2% at both time points, the concurrent treatment group experienced recurrence rates of less than 2% at 5 years and less than 3% at 7 years.

Additionally, there were no appreciable variations in side effects or cosmetic appearance. Although there have been and are still clinical trials aimed at enhancing the efficacy of breast radiotherapy, Jimenez noted that this was a large-scale trial that enrolled a sizable portion of "high-risk" patients, such as those with high-grade disease and/or biology deficient in the estrogen receptor.

It demonstrated excellent cancer control rates with this condensed treatment schedule, even among a higher-risk cohort.

According to Vinci, administering a radiation dose simultaneously necessitates a high level of treatment provider sophistication.

Jimenez stated, "I anticipate that physicians considering adopting this approach will need to take into account the technical details that go along with this integrated treatment technique, but this should not present a significant adoption barrier.

Future studies on radiation therapy for breast cancer

Future research will look at whether patients whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes can also receive the shorter treatment regimen safely and effectively.

Researchers are also interested in examining the efficacy of even shorter causes of treatment. For instance, UK researchers are testing a one-week radiation course for patients at lower risk.

Dr. Robert Wollman, a radiation oncologist and the medical director of the Vasek Polak Radiation Oncology Department at Providence Saint John's Health Center in California, recalled treating patients with daily radiation treatments lasting six to seven weeks in the past. "

For the past ten years or so, most patients in my practice receive four weeks (20 daily treatments). Additionally, some patients may receive five treatments in a single week.

According to Wollman, "This study provides a middle ground for patients with higher risk features who can now be finished in as little as three weeks or 15 treatments."

It's wonderful to know that we can accomplish the same goal of curing cancer while saving patients a great deal of time and avoiding further side effects.

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Akta Yadav

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