• Untitled-design-1

Short-course high dose radiotherapy for early breast cancer associated with less toxicity and improved quality of life

August 10th, 2015

A shorter course of higher dose radiotherapy may be a better treatment option for women with early breast cancer, according to new research from the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in the United States.

The study followed almost 300 women diagnosed with early breast cancer who had undergone breast conserving surgery – also called a ‘lumpectomy’. The women were randomly assigned to receive either the conventional low dose radiotherapy or an accelerated regimen of higher dose radiotherapy delivered over a shorter time period.

The findings, published in this month’s JAMA Oncology, found that women who received the higher doses of whole breast radiotherapy over a shorter time period had fewer side effects and a better quality of life compared with women who received conventional low-dose radiotherapy over a longer time period.

Specifically, women in the higher-dose radiotherapy group had less breast pain, eczema and fatigue during treatment. Six months after treatment, these women reported less fatigue and felt more able to care for their families compared with women in the conventional low-dose radiotherapy group.

“Patients who received the accelerated course reported less difficulty in caring for their families’ needs. This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation,” said study author, Dr Simona Shaitelman.

“Most are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and are juggling a number of priorities. It’s paramount that [researchers] address this need,” explained Dr Shaitelman.

Receiving radiotherapy may be an important part of a woman’s treatment plan. However, in Australia research has shown that some women, especially those with young children, are less likely to undergo radiotherapy due to the time required to complete treatment and the need to travel to access a treatment location.

The findings from this recent study suggest that women who undergo higher-dose or ‘accelerated’ radiotherapy not only benefit from the shorter length of treatment, but also suffer less severe side effects.

Researchers have recommended that the findings of this recent study should be discussed as part of the treatment decision making process between a woman and her doctor.