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Some Respite From Breast Cancer Treatments

Shortened radiation therapy for disease being tested

FRIDAY, Dec. 20, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Stanford University Medical Center researchers are testing a new kind of radiation treatment that may significantly reduce treatment time for women with breast cancer.

Women taking part in the study will receive a single dose of radiation at the time of their surgery for breast cancer instead of the usual six-week course of radiation therapy.

People are currently being recruited for the clinical trial, which is meant to determine if this accelerated form of radiotherapy is safe, feasible and effective in controlling breast cancer recurrence in women who have a lumpectomy.

Many women with a breast tumor have a lumpectomy, in which surgeons remove the area of the breast with cancer and leave the rest of the breast intact. The lumpectomy is followed by six weeks of almost daily doses of radiation to the entire breast. That's meant to reduce the risk that the cancer will return.

The idea behind the six-week course of radiation treatments was to break the total radiation dose into smaller segments to reduce side effects. However, this lengthy course of treatment can be difficult for women because it interferes with their work and family lives.

In recent years, American and European doctors have started to examine ways to shorten the length of radiation treatment while still protecting women against the return of cancer.

A previous Italian study found that a single dose of radiation after lumpectomy seemed to be safe and effective. The Stanford researchers are doing the first U.S. trial of this technique.

They want to recruit 50 women, aged 40 and older, who have a single breast tumor smaller than 2.5 centimeters and who have a low likelihood of tumors elsewhere in the breast.

For information about taking part in this trial, call Janelle Maxwell at 650-498-7740.

More information

The National Cancer Institute has more about breast cancer.

SOURCE: Stanford University Medical Center, news release, December 2002
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