News | November 15, 2006

Study Finds Shorter-Course Radiation Treatment Safe for Breast Cancer

According to the Fox Chase Cancer Center study presented at the recent 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, external-beam radiation therapy for early-stage breast cancer can be delivered safely and in a shorter course that eliminates as much as two weeks from conventional treatment.
Many women with early-stage breast cancer are treated with breast-sparing surgery (lumpectomy) followed by external-beam radiation. The typical radiation course is delivered five days a week for six to seven weeks. In this phase II study presentation, researchers demonstrated that treatment length can be safely shortened to four weeks by increasing the daily dose delivered to the breast and lumpectomy site.
The study included 75 patients and the end goal was to measure toxicity and cosmetic outcomes. Scores for toxicity and cosmetic outcomes were compared with historical data of women who received the usual longer course of therapy.
“These results demonstrate that the increased daily radiation given to the breast does not result in significant increased side-effects, but it allows us to dramatically reduce the time needed for treatment," explained the study's lead author Gary Freedman, M.D., a radiation oncologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. "Longer follow-up is needed to compare the outcomes at five years after treatment."

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