Reducing radiation during breast cancer treatment

Healthsource WJRT
Healthsource WJRT(WJRT)
Published: Dec. 22, 2020 at 9:23 AM EST
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Radiation treatment after breast cancer surgery used to be a prescribed one-size-fits-all. Now, clinicians in the U.S. are considering a reduction in radiation for one group of breast cancer patients following the results of a European study.

This is one serious side effect of breast cancer radiation treatment designed to destroy any lingering cancer cells can damage the skin. For many patients, doctors prescribe radiation five days a week for five or six weeks. But what if they could get the same outcome with fewer visits?

“When the patients get breast cancer treatment, they come daily for treatment. So, each visit is counted as a fraction. So, in this five-fraction, they come five times instead of like 20 or 30 times,” explained Sushil Beriwal, MD, a radiation oncologist, at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

The results of the APBI clinical trial from Florence, Italy studied patients diagnosed with early stage breast cancer that had not spread to the lymph nodes. Results suggested a shorter course of focused radiation is just as effective in preventing cancer from recurring.

“So, it’s a win-win situation. If you are a suitable candidate, it causes less physical discomfort, less financial discomfort, and less visits to the hospital,” shared Dr. Beriwal.

Experts say reducing the amount of time a woman spends in radiation treatment may encourage more women to undergo lumpectomy and radiation rather than mastectomy. Some women choose mastectomy because of the inability to get to a radiation facility every day for several weeks.

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