Expert recommendations in 2011 supported a cheaper radiation for breast cancer patients in early stages. Nevertheless, a recent study showed the cheaper radiation for breast cancer patients has not been used on patients who are eligible to get it.
Dr. Justin E. Bekelman from the University Of Pennsylvania Perelman School Of Medicine, Philadelphia is the leader of the recent study. The scientists show how the breast conservation therapy is the most popular treatment for breast cancer in the early stages. Whole breast irradiation is suggested to most women after undergoing surgery as the treatment decreases the chances of recurrence and increases survival.
WBI (whole breast irradiation) has been the main treatment for breast cancer in the United States and is made up of 5 to 7 weeks of irradiation treatments every day. Nevertheless, hypofractionated whole breast irradiation is a shorter and cheaper option to regular WBI. The treatment consists of less higher dose treatments over the course of 3 weeks.
The scientists looked at the costs and usage of hypofractionated WBI throughout the years 2008 to 2013. This period of time was before and after the release of essential clinical trials and modified guidelines of practice. The data gathered included information from 14 health care plans, covering 7.4 percent of adult women in the United States in 2013. It also categorized women with early stages of breast cancer being treated with WBI and lumpectomy in the years 2008 to 2013 into two major groups. The first group was a hypofractionated-permitted group in which 6,719 women who were allowed to receive hypofractionated WBI, younger than 50 years or who received axillary lymph node involvement or chemotherapy in a prior stage. The second one was a hypofractionated-endorsed group in which 8,924 women who were recommended to receive hypofractionated WBI, 50 years or older without a prior axillary lymph node involvement or chemotherapy.
The findings of the study showed that even though the treatment of breast cancer with hypofractionated WBI started being more used on women suffering from early stages of breast cancer, only 34.5 percent of women in the hypofractionated-endorsed group and 21.2 percent of them from the hypofractionated-permitted group were given the cheaper, shorter procedure in 2013.
The researchers said that average health care expenses in the year after being diagnosed were $31,641 for the longer treatment and $28,747 for the shorter treatment in the group endorsed for hypofractionated WBI and $72,860 for the longer treatment and $64,273 for the shorter treatment in the group permitted to receive hypofractionated WBI.
This makes the hypofractionated WBI the cheaper radiation for breast cancer patients.