Radiotherapy boost for women with early-stage breast cancer offers less risk of disease recurrence
- Early stage breast cancer involves removing the milk ducts to stop it from spreading
- Scientists believe radiotherapy now reduces the risk of cancer recurrence
- Some women with aggressive cells are offered a three-week course of radiation
- Less than 3 pc of those who received radiotherapy saw the cancer return within five years
Giving women with early-stage breast cancer an extra dose of radiation therapy may reduce the risk of the disease coming back, a study finds.
Those with the earliest cancer, where the diseased cells are in the milk ducts, usually undergo surgery to remove the cells.
Some women with cells that multiply rapidly and are likely to spread are offered a three-week course of radiotherapy to kill the remaining disease.
Women with early-stage breast cancer may reduce the risk of the disease coming back if they get a boost from radiotherapy
But a team of international cancer experts has found that an extra five doses at the end of treatment will keep women cancer-free for longer
But a team of international cancer experts has found that five extra doses at the end of treatment keep women cancer-free for longer.
In a trial of 1,608 women from 136 hospitals worldwide, less than three percent of those who received a radiation therapy boost saw their disease return after five years.
This is compared to just over seven percent of those who receive standard treatment.
Every year around 7,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with the earliest form of breast cancer, known as ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS. In about half of the cases, the cancer does not spread to the surrounding breast tissue or other parts of the body.
Boost radiotherapy, which targets cancer cells directly, is often given to women with more advanced tumors because studies have shown it prevents recurrence.
But the new trial is the first time the intervention has been offered to people at such an early stage.
Charity Breast Cancer Now has awarded researchers from the University of Edinburgh a £79,000 grant so they can continue to monitor UK study participants.
Professor Ian Kunkler, Clinical Oncology Adviser at the Edinburgh Cancer Centre, described the results as extremely encouraging. “We need to understand the long-term impact of the complementary radiotherapy so that patients and clinicians can make an informed decision about whether it is right for them in the future,” he said.
While women who received additional radiation therapy stayed healthy longer, they also reported side effects such as breast pain and skin hardening. dr. Kotryna Temcinaite of Breast Cancer Now said, “More research is needed to identify which women are not benefiting.”