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Targeted breast cancer radiotherapy reduces side effects

Targeted radiotherapy on the site where tumours first develop rather than to the whole breast can dramatically reduce side effects for breast cancer patients, a trial shows.

Targeted radiotherapy on the site where tumours first develop rather than to the whole breast can dramatically reduce side effects for breast cancer patients, a trial shows.

target
Evidence supports the use of less radiotherapy for selected patients.
 Picture: Science Photo Library

Targeted radiotherapy on the site where tumours first develop can dramatically reduce side effects for breast cancer patient, a new trial shows.

Researchers at 30 centres across the UK studied 2,000 women aged 50 or over who had early stage breast cancer identified as at a low risk of returning.

Some were treated with whole breast radiotherapy – the clinical standard – while others received partial radiotherapy specifically at the site of the tumour. Patients in both groups received 15 sessions of treatment over a three-week period.

1 in 8 women

and 1 in 870 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime

(Cancer Research UK)

Follow-up assessments were carried out after five years, with 99% of the patients reporting they were now disease free.

Those who received the targeted approach reported fewer long-term changes to the appearance and feel of their breast five years after the treatment than those who had radiotherapy on the whole breast.

Reader in Breast Radiation Oncology at Cambridge University, chief investigator for the trial and first author of the publication Charlotte Coles said: ‘Now we have evidence to support the use of less, but equally effective, radiotherapy for selected patients.’


Coles, C et al (2017) Partial-breast radiotherapy after breast conservation surgery for patients with early breast cancer (UK IMPORT LOW trial): 5-year results from a multicentre, randomised, controlled, phase 3, non-inferiority trial. The Lancet. doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(17)31145-5

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