Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Shorter May Be Better for Radiation

From the National Cancer Institute:

Giving radiation therapy in fewer but larger doses may be an alternative to standard radiation therapy for some women with early-stage breast cancer. A trial testing this approach, called hypofractionated radiation therapy, has found that the regimen tested did not increase long-term toxicities and resulted in rates of survival and local recurrence similar to those seen with standard radiation therapy. The study, published in the February 11 New England Journal of Medicine, had the longest follow-up results of any study to date of hypofractionated radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Breast-conserving surgery (BCS) plus adjuvant radiation therapy has been firmly established as a safe alternative to full mastectomy for most women with early-stage breast cancer. The radiation therapy part of that regimen is vital, as long-term data have shown that it greatly reduces the risk of tumor recurrence.

However, almost a third of women in North America do not get radiation therapy after BCS. “Although the use of breast-conserving surgery is increasing, the number of women who receive appropriate radiation therapy after breast-conserving surgery is actually decreasing,” said Dr. Timothy Whelan, professor of oncology at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada. MORE.

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