Researchers found that the treatment time for non-invasive breast cancers halved
Women being treated with radiotherapy for one of the most common forms of breast cancer – ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) do just as well if their treatment is accelerated, according to a new study.
DCIS in a non-invasive form of breast cancer, meaning that it is does not tend to spread to other parts of the body. Because it is non-invasive treatment usually involves removal of the lump (lumpectomy) and five or six weeks of whole breast radiation. Other breast cancers may be treated more aggressively, with stronger doses at each treatment session, requiring fewer sessions overall. Now researchers from New York University School of Medicine have shown this approach is also very effective for non-invasive breast cancers and cuts treatment time in half.
Looking at data from 145 DCIS patients, the researchers found that after five years, only 4.1% of the study participants experienced a recurrence of breast cancer when they had been treated with a lumpectomy and accelerated whole breast irradiation. Between 5 and 10% of patients who have received standard radiation treatment have recurrences, so these figures indicate that not only does accelerated treatment make a recurrence less likely, it also means treatment is completed much sooner. Localised radiation is usually painless but a patient may need a hospital stay; the most common side effect is itchy, burning or sore skin. Unlike chemotherapy, localised radiation for breast cancer doesn’t usually cause nausea, vomiting or hair loss (aside from in the immediate area, ie the breast/armpit). And, obviously the shorter the treatment period is, the sooner a person can start getting back to a more normal life.