Three-Week Course of Breast Radiation May Be as Effective as Conventional Five to Seven Week Course for Early Breast Cancers, Says U.S. Study

Wed Nov 4, 2009 12:30pm EST

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Three-Week Course of Breast Radiation May Be as Effective as Conventional Five
to Seven Week Course for Early Breast Cancers, Says U.S. Study

CHICAGO, Nov. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --  According to a study presented
November 4, 2009, at the 51st Annual Meeting of the American Society for
Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), a shortened, more intensive course of radiation
given to the whole breast, along with an extra dose of radiation given to the
surgical bed of the tumor (concomitant boost), has been shown to result in
excellent local control at a median follow up of two years after treatment
with no significant side effects.

"The observations to date suggest that a three-week course of radiation
therapy with concomitant boost results in outcomes comparable to that of a
five to seven week course for early stage-breast cancers. Additional studies
with a larger body of data and longer follow-up period will help establish
whether this type of radiation treatment should be routinely used," Manjeet
Chadha, M.D., lead author of the study and a radiation oncologist at the Beth
Israel Medical Center in New York, said.

This shorter treatment, called accelerated hypofractionated whole breast
irradiation, is an especially attractive option because women can receive a
full course of radiation therapy in half the time -- three weeks of daily
treatments vs. five to seven weeks. In addition, the cost of this treatment is
lower relative to the cost of the standard whole breast radiation and is also
less expensive than other new approaches, such as partial breast irradiation
(breast brachytherapy).

"Studies from Europe and Canada have used accelerated schedules for breast
radiation therapy with favorable results reported on longer follow up. In the
U.S., however, there is limited data on this topic," Dr. Chadha said.
"Additionally, the radiation therapy technique used in our study is different
from previously published experiences. For each patient, we developed a
conformal, personalized plan using three-dimensional dosimetry data derived
from the patient specific CT scan images. Radiation treatment was delivered to
the whole breast using an accelerated hypofractionated schedule, with the
simultaneous delivery of a boost dose given to the precise location from which
the tumor was removed."

Many women with early-stage breast cancer undergo breast conserving therapy.
Typically, this means they first have surgery to remove the visible cancer (a
lumpectomy), and then receive a course of radiation therapy to kill any
microscopic cancer cells that may remain. The standard whole breast radiation
treatment takes 15 to 30 minutes every day, Monday through Friday, for five to
seven weeks.

Beginning in June 2004, researchers studied 112 women with early-stage breast
cancer who received accelerated hypofractionated whole breast irradiation plus
concomitant boost. The results were reported on 105 patients who had completed
therapy and had a minimum six-month follow up. The patient group had small
breast tumors that had not spread to the lymph nodes. Women with early-stage
breast cancer who received chemotherapy or underwent radiation to the lymph
nodes were excluded from the study. Patients were followed at regular
intervals after completion of treatment.

Findings show that the cancer did not return to the original site or to the
surrounding region in these women. The median follow-up of the study was two
years. Survival was greater than 95 percent for patients with five years of
follow up. The study also shows there were no significant physical or cosmetic
side effects from the radiation treatment.

In an era of personalized care, Dr. Chadha emphasizes, "Women with early-stage
breast cancer interested in this shorter course should ask their radiation
oncologists about this option to evaluate whether it is suitable for their
individual case."

For more information on radiation therapy for breast cancer, visit  

The abstract, "Results using 3-week Accelerated Whole Breast (WB) Radiation
Therapy (RT) and Concomitant Boost for Early-stage Node Negative Breast
Cancer," will be presented at a scientific session at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday,
November 4. To speak to the lead author of the study, Manjeet Chadha, M.D.,
please call Beth Bukata or Nicole Napoli November 1-4, 2009, in the ASTRO
Press Room at McCormick Place West at 312-791-7005 or 312-791-7006. You may
also e-mail them at or

SOURCE  American Society for Radiation Oncology

Beth Bukata,, Nicole Napoli,,  
+1-800-962-7876; Press Room - Nov. 1-4, +1-312-791-7005, +1-312-791-7006;
After Hours: +1-703-474-0940
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