Home Science Health One-time targeted breast cancer treatment works!


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An international study has found that a newly developed one-time targeted-at-the-tumor site radiation treatment for breast cancer is just as effective as the traditional radiation treatment that involves a daily exposure of the entire breast to radiation.



The international study, which is being called a landmark study, involved a majority of the female patients from throughout the world (nine countries) along with another small number of women from the University of California at San Francisco.

Each women, all of which were 45 years or older, and had early stage invasive breast cancer who had been treated with surgery to remove the tumor in the breast.

The new method is called 'targeted intraoperative radiotherapy'  (which treats only the tumor site) and the traditional one is called 'external beam radiotherapy" (which treats the entire breast).

In the targeted intraoperataive radiotherapy, radiation was applied through the tip of a rod for 20 to 35 minutes.

In the external beam radiotherapy, radiation was applied to the entire breast for about 15 to 20 minutes, and lasted five days a week for three to seven weeks.\

Of the total number of patients, just over 1,000 of the women were given the targeted intraoperative radiotherapy and nearly an equal number of them were given the external beam radiotherapy. Only a few hundred of the women received both radiation methods.

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The paper involving details of the study was published in the journal The Lancet. It is entitled 'Targeted intraoperative radiotherapy versus whole breast radiotherapy for breast cancer (TARGIT-A trial): an international, prospective, randomised, non-inferiority phase 3 trial.'

The leaders of the study were Dr. Jayant S. Vaidya, of University College London, and Dr. David Joseph, of the University of Western Australia.


The Lancet paper states, 'At 4 years, there were six local recurrences in the intraoperative radiotherapy group and five in the external beam radiotherapy group.'

The researchers involved with the study determined that after four years of treatment, the chance of having cancer reoccur in the breast was just about the same for both methods.

The San Francisco Chronicle article "One-time radiation effective in breast cancer' quoted Dr. Robert Carlson, who is an U.S. oncologist at the Stanford Cancer Center (Stanford, California), who was not involved in the study.

Dr. Carlson stated, 'This is a major, landmark study. But it probably needs follow-up of eight to 10 years."

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The researchers interpreted their results in the following manner: 'For selected patients with early breast cancer, a single dose of radiotherapy delivered at the time of surgery by use of targeted intraoperative radiotherapy should be considered as an alternative to external beam radiotherapy delivered over several weeks.'

The researchers also stated that the targeted-at-the-tumor-site radiation treatment requires just one session (versus the whole breast method that takes daily treatments over several weeks).

The new method is, thus, less time consuming and, consequently, less costly than the traditional treatment that treats the whole breast.

Researchers of breast cancer treatments are encouraged from these results for the targeted intraoperative radiotherapy.

However, they note that treatment for women with breast cancer with this method is still years away from being commonly available.

For additional information on the study, please read the U.S. News and World Report article 'Targeted Radiation for Early Breast Cancer a Good Option: Study.'




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