Monday, August 7, 2017

Targeted radiotherapy reduces side effects of breast cancer surgery

CANCER DIGEST – Aug. 7, 2017 – Targeting the tumor site with radiotherapy after surgery to remove breast cancer resulted in fewer long-term side effects five years later, according to a new British study.

The researchers at 30 radiotherapy centers across the UK, led by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre, studied more than 2,000 women aged 50 or over who had early stage breast cancer that was at a low risk of coming back. The results of the study were published in the Aug. 2, 2017 The Lancet.

After lumpectomy surgery to remove the breast tumor, 674 of the women were treated with standard whole-breast radiotherapy, 673 were treated with lower-dose whole-breast radiotherapy and 669 received partial-breast radiotherapy. After an average of five years follow-up relapse rates were the same for all three groups at about 1.1% in the whole breast therapy group, 0.02% for the reduced radiotherapy group, and 0.05% for the partial-breast group.

The women were assessed for side effects with a series of photographs, and clinical and patient assessments. Side effects included breast appearance, and hardened tissues, pain and other effects associated either with the surgery or the radiotherapy. The patients in the partial-breast group reported a statistically significant less disfigurement and hardened tissue compared to the whole breast radiotherapy group.

The researchers concluded that lumpectomy  followed by partial-breast radiotherapy equally effective as whole-breast radiotherapy and may implemented in radiotherapy centers around the world.

“One of the challenges when treating early stage breast cancer is trying to minimize the side effects that can have a real impact on a woman’s life, without affecting the chances of curing her," Professor Arnie Purushotham, clinical advisor for Cancer Research UK in a press release. “This approach could spare many women significant physical discomfort and emotional distress.”  

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