A new study suggests that shorter courses of radiation therapy but at increased daily doses are more effective in treating early breast cancer than traditional radiotherapy.
Researchers found that women who received higher doses of the therapy but on shorter periods of time recovered quicker and reported an increased quality of life than their peers who underwent conventional therapy. Conventional therapy lasts longer but radiation doses are reduced.
“Patients who received the shorter course reported less difficulty in caring for their families’ needs. This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation,”
said Dr. Simona Shaitelman, the lead author of the study and researcher at the University of Texas’s Anderson Cancer Center.
Dr. Shaitelman also explained that having a breast cancer diagnostic doesn’t mean that life stops for patients. Many of them are working mothers that need to stay in optimal health and have a high level of energy to cater for their loved ones’ needs.
A paper on the findings was published Aug. 6 in JAMA Oncology.
The shorter radiotherapy known as “hypofractionated whole breast irradiation” among radiation ocologists should be taken into account when physicians discuss with their female patients the treatment options they have.
The conventional therapy known as “conventionally fractionated whole breast irradiation” is very common in the U.S. Experts explained that only one-third of the women eligible for the higher dose therapy eventually get it.
The new research involved 300 breast cancer patients diagnosed with early stages. The medium age was 40. Most of volunteers had already undergone lumpectomy and were recommended to try radiotherapy, as well.
Researchers noted that those who received radiation over a shorter period of time had fewer side-effects such as nausea, low energy levels, breast pain, and skin rashes than their peers in the control group. After half an year, the first group displayed greater vitality and reported that they could take care of their families better than the women in the other group.
Stephanie Bernik, MD, from the at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, recently said that the study clearly shows women who choose hypofractionated radiation therapy are less affected by severe side effects. Dr. Bernik recommends breast cancer patients to take into consideration this type of therapy when discussing options with their health care providers.
Dr. Benjamin Smith, one of the study authors, said that the findings are a missing piece of puzzle in the breast cancer literature. He said that the study results convinced him that hypofractionated therapy was not just another option. It should be THE options for any stage 0- 2 breast cancer patient.
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