March 9, 2016
Today, doctors from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust addressed the 10th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-10) and, according to Eureka Alert, discussed their findings regarding radiation and breast cancer. According to their study, researchers looked at more than 2,000 women aged 50 and above who had undergone breast conservation surgery, or lumpectomies, for invasive early breast cancer tumors measuring less than three cm at their largest point.
Following surgery, doctors randomized the amount of radiation given to these patients, distributing them into three study groups. The first group received radiation doses covering the entire breast, the standard treatment. A second group received the same full dose to breast tissue closest to where the lump was removed and a slightly lower dose further away. The third group received a standard full course of radiation closest to the lump’s location, but no radiation further away. Five years later, they found the rate of cancer returning in all cases was very low, with each group producing the same results. Targeted radiation also had fewer long term side-effects. According to the study, only one percent or less of women in each group saw cancer return in their breast. The doctors plan to keep following the women to see if that changes over time.
All patients were treated with the same radiation technique, called intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), which delivers an even dose of radiation. This technique, according to the report, minimized the chances of hotspots of unwanted high doses and reduced changes in the appearance of the breast, which may be firmer and tender to the touch following full-dose radiation. Dr. Charlotte Coles, MD, clinical trial lead, stated, “At a time when breast cancer mortality rates are falling and more women are surviving their cancer, we believe it is particularly important to keep any treatment toxicity to the absolute minimum.” Specialists agree that radiation is highly effective for many women diagnosed with breast cancer and use of radiation reduces the risk of recurrence.