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Saving time with higher doses
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Physicians at Fox Chase Cancer Center demonstrated that treatment time can be shortened from six to four weeks using IMRT (intensity-modulated radiation therapy), a highly sophisticated system of delivering external-beam radiation that allows for more even dose distribution and accuracy as well as lower doses to organs such as lung and heart, thus reducing side effects.

Using IMRT, this study examined the delivery of a higher daily dose of radiation over four weeks (versus a lower dose over six to seven weeks). During that same time period, the lumpectomy site where the tumour was removed was treated with a high-dose radiation "boost." The standard "boost" is typically administered after the four to five weeks of whole breast irradiation and adds another one to two weeks to the treatment time. The Physicians demonstrated that in addition to safely increasing the dose to the whole breast during the four-week period, it is possible to deliver the "boost" concurrently, eliminating the extra two weeks.

"When delivering high doses of radiation, we have to consider the level of side effects and the cosmetic result," explained Fox Chase radiation oncologist Gary Freedman, M.D. "In this phase II study, women reported acceptable side effects, and the cosmetic result was similar to the longer six-week treatment course."

The curative outcome for early-stage breast cancer is the same whether a woman chooses to have a lumpectomy or mastectomy, the removal of the entire breast. Many factors influence a woman's decision when considering the two options. One of these factors is the time commitment for the recommended radiation course that follows a lumpectomy. Radiation significantly reduces the chance that cancer will recur in the affected breast, but the usual time commitment—five days a week for six or seven weeks—can be a barrier for choosing this treatment option.

MEDICA.de; Source: Fox Chase Cancer Center