Researchers Refine Radiotherapy For Women With Breast Cancer, Reducing Side-Effects

Victoria Forster Contributor

Forbes Magazine


December 27th, 2018

“A new study has found that many women with early-stage breast cancer can receive a lower or more targeted dose of radiotherapy after surgical removal of their tumors, reducing side-effects with no negative impact on their chance of survival.

The results of the research which involved over two-thousand women with breast cancer across 71 treatment centers in the U.K. was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and funded by Cancer Research U.K.

“Our trial has shown that it is possible to safely dial back treatment so that women who have surgery for breast cancer not only have excellent survival but also the best quality of life possible,” said Professor Judith Bliss, Director of the Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research, London and senior author of the paper.

The study also found that women were more likely to experience side effects if they were younger, had larger breasts or were feeling anxious or depressed before beginning treatment. The researchers hope to use this information to identify women more likely to experience side-effects so they can offer these women additional support or alternative treatment options.

“Improving cancer treatment isn’t only about extending life but also about making sure that people who survive cancer can live as well as possible,” said Bliss.

Women who had their tumors removed by surgery were randomly assigned to one of three different radiotherapy protocols post-treatment to kill any tumor cells remaining in the breast after surgery. The first used a standard dose of radiation to the specific part of the breast where the tumor was removed, the second was a reduced dose of radiation, but to the whole breast and the third was a standard dose to the whole breast.”