Study Shows A New Approach to Radiotherapy May Save Lives
As we continue to support breast cancer research and hope for a cure, innovative advancements in technology continue to emerge in our society that simplifies cancer treatments. The phrase “good things come in small packages” may finally ring true for breast cancer patients. Two new studies published in the JAMA Oncology journal have reported that higher doses of radiation therapy administered in shorter courses may be less toxic for breast cancer patients. Breast cancer patients might also experience a better quality of life during shorter course treatments than they would with lower doses during a longer course of radiation therapy.
Whole breast radiation therapy with low doses over longer periods of time has been the most common approach for women diagnosed with breast cancer in its early stages and those who have reduced the risk of recurrence by undergoing breast-conserving surgery. Approximately 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year and opt for radiation therapies to improve their survival rate.
After evaluating 287 women with early stages of breast cancer who were 40 years of age or older, the research team found that patients opting for higher doses and shorter courses of radiation had less trouble meeting the needs of their families after six months, which is a high priority for many female patients.
The study also revealed health benefit for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer undergoing shorter courses of radiation therapy. The research team evaluated the side effects experienced and ailments reported by the subjects. Their results revealed that the subjects who opted for higher doses in shorter courses experienced lower incidents of breast pain, severe itching, acute dermatitis and fatigue during treatment than those who opted for lower doses of radiation therapy over longer periods of time, which ultimately improved their quality of life.
The findings were not published to eliminate whole breast radiation therapy in longer courses, but to provide patients with the option to choose higher doses in a shorter course if they so desire. Any type of treatment for cancer ultimately takes a toll on patients. Expanding options for services that can improve their quality of life and allow those inflicted with breast cancer to care for their families is essential, especially when new technologies are emerging daily.