Breast Cancer Patients Benefit From Fewer, Larger Treatments of Radiotherapy

TON - Daily

Trial’s 10-year results confirm benefits of shorter total radiotherapy dose

When treating early breast cancer, a lower total dose of radiotherapy, provided in fewer, larger treatments, is as safe and effective as the international standard dose, according to the 10-year follow-up results of a major trial.

Chief investigator John Yarnold, professor of clinical oncology at The Institute of Cancer Research and honorary consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have shown conclusively that less can be more in breast cancer radiotherapy. Three weeks of radiotherapy is as good as 5 weeks – as well as being more convenient and less tiring for patients and cheaper for the health service.”

The initial 5-year results of the START trials, which involve nearly 4500 women, showed it was just as effective and safe to give women a lower total dose of radiotherapy in fewer, larger treatments than the 25-dose international standard. Benefits of the new treatment routine included fewer patient trips to hospital as well as cost savings for the health service.

This latest 10-year follow-up, presented at the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, confirms these benefits and demonstrates that only about 6% of women experience a relapse of cancer within the same breast, regardless of whether they receive a shorter or longer course of radiotherapy following surgery.

“The risk of breast cancer recurring continues beyond 5 years, and side effects of radiotherapy can often develop many years after treatment, so these long-term results provide a very important reassurance that the shorter treatment course is definitely the best option for patients. Some doctors may have been hesitant to change their practice on the basis of 5-year results, but these long-term findings should convert those skeptics,” said Yarnold.

Kate Law, Cancer Research UK’s director of clinical research, said, “As a result of this trial, women are already benefiting from the added physical and emotional well-being of needing fewer hospital visits for their treatment. Minimizing the long-term side effects of treatment is becoming increasingly important as cancer patients live longer. We hope that women around the world will now be able to benefit from this improved standard of care.”

Source: Cancer Research UK.

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