Some women with early breast cancer might benefit from a “one-and-done” treatment, in which they receive a single dose of targeted radiation therapy during the surgery that removes their tumor.
A pair of new studies found that this procedure works about as well as current protocols that require six weeks of daily radiation therapy following surgery.
The new procedure uses miniature devices that deliver radiation directly to the site of the tumor, while the site remains exposed by surgery following lumpectomy.
“It’s right in front of the surgeon’s and the radiation oncologist’s eyes, so we can put the beam precisely where it is needed,” said study co-author Dr. Michael Baum, emeritus professor of surgery and a principal research associate at the University College London Medical School. “We can form the cavity to the shape of the beam. It’s elegant and dead simple.”
The procedure also appears safer, in terms of radiation exposure. Fewer women who received targeted therapy died during Baum’s study, an occurrence they chalked up to the patients’ more limited exposure to radiation.
In Baum’s trial, women received one dose of radiation therapy for 20 to 45 minutes following surgery. About 15 percent of the patients had tumor complications that required them to return for the standard weeks of radiation therapy. However, radiation treatment was completed for the rest of the women, and with cancer recurrence rates comparable to standard treatment.
“You can say 80 percent or more of these women will complete their therapy at the time of surgery,” Baum said.
This therapy could prove an advantage for women who live in remote areas without easy access to a radiation therapy center, Baum said.
He said these women often have to undergo a full mastectomy even if they are eligible for breast-saving cancer surgery, simply because they can’t make it to the follow-up radiation therapy sessions that will prevent their cancer from recurring.
Read more at: MedlinePlus