Partial Breast Radiation
With so much focus on clinical trials related to chemotherapy and/or hormonal therapies, we sometimes forget that there is also ongoing investigation into radiation therapy and surgery. For several years, some women (with small breast tumors) have been given the option of receiving partial breast radiation rather than the standard radiation which treats the whole breast. A study presented at ASCO found that:
ORLANDO, June 4 -- Partial-breast irradiation offers early-stage breast cancer patients equivalent survival and protection against metastasis compared with whole-breast treatment, results of a meta-analysis indicate.
However, an increased likelihood of locoregional recurrence with partial-breast irradiation requires further study to define the risk and potential consequences, Davide Mauri, M.D., said at the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting.
"Partial-breast irradiation may be safe and feasible for women with early-stage breast cancer
because it does not jeopardize patient survival or the risk of metastasis," said Dr. Mauri, of General Hospital of Lamia, Greece. Partial-breast irradiation involves substantially less time commitment and radiation exposure compared with whole-breast irradiation, which has been the standard for patients with early-stage breast cancer.
This is a hopeful and exciting preliminary finding as it raises the possibility that, someday, most women with breast cancer may be as safely and effectively treated with a a shorter course (fewer days) and less exposure to radiation. Although the potential serious long-term side effects of breast radiation are quite rare and the benefits enormous, all of us would be happy to minimize the exposure and any risk.
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