New Breast Cancer Treatment Could Shorten Radiation Time
The following story by Lindsey Tanner, a reporter for the Associated Press, offers new information on the treatment of breast cancer. Also, listed immediately following the article are several websites for readers to visit to learn more about cancer and cancer research.
A single, concentrated dose of radiation may be as effective as six straight weeks of treatment for women who have had a cancerous lump removed from a breast, preliminary research suggests.
The experimental treatment could make lumpectomy-- a breast-saving type of cancer surgery in which only the lump is removed-- available to many more women.
Many women who are diagnosed with early breast cancer decide against a lumpectomy because they cannot spend six weeks receiving daily radiation treatments, said Dr. Jayant Vaidya, a surgeon at University College London in England who led the study.
Mastectomies, or removal of the entire breast, typically do not require radiation. Mastectomies are often the only option for women who live far from cancer treatment centers or find the standard radiation schedule unworkable.
An experimental technique called intra-operative radiotherapy uses a miniature radiation probe right after a lumpectomy. The probe is inserted inside the cavity created by the removal of the tumor, and radiation equivalent to six weeks of doses is emitted for about 25 minutes.
The technique was just as effective as six weeks of radiation in preliminary results from Vaidya's study of 29 women, which was prepared for presentation Monday at a meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.
The women all underwent lumpectomies for tumors of less than 11/2 inches. About half received the standard six weeks of radiation. All have remained cancer-free during 11/2 years follow-up.
Since peak time for cancer recurrence is two to four years after treatment, it is too soon to call the technique a success, said Dr. LaMar McGinnis, senior medical consultant for the American Cancer Society.
But "So far, so good," Vaidya said.
Dr. Paula Schomberg, a Mayo Clinic radiologist, said the approach still requires more study.
For more information on breast cancer treatment and other cancer related topics please visit:
of North America
University College London
American Cancer Society