Accelerated Breast Radiation Therapy Following Mastectomy Shortens Treatment Time While Maintaining Tumor Control

According to research presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO), the world’s largest radiation oncology society, radiation therapy following mastectomy for intermediate-stage, high-risk breast cancer can be shortened from five to three weeks while maintaining tumor control rates in the breast and surrounding region that are equivalent to conventional treatment.

Five-year results of a Chinese clinical trial with more than 800 post-mastectomy breast cancer patients confirmed that tumor recurrence rates following 15 daily fractions of radiation delivered over three weeks were not inferior to those following 25 fractions.  Patients also experienced fewer side effects following accelerated treatment, indicating that hypofractionated radiation following mastectomy is a safe and effective treatment for locally advanced disease.

One of the study’s lead authors, Shulian Wang, M.D., said, “Patients with invasive breast cancer receive radiation therapy after tumor-removal surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent this very aggressive disease from returning.  This trial demonstrates that we can safely accelerate adjuvant radiation therapy and reduce treatment time by two weeks.  This option makes treatment more convenient for patients, reduces medical expenses and allows providers to treat more patients with limited resources.”

At Illinois CyberKnife, we treat breast cancer patients with accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) in just five treatments using the CyberKnife® Robotic Radiosurgery System.  CyberKnife is a painless, nonsurgical cancer treatment technology in which high-dose radiation is targeted to the tissue surrounding the site where the tumor was removed.  Radiation is delivered in an accelerated course of treatment over a few days instead of several weeks.  The benefits of using Cyberknife include minimized radiation exposure, including radiation to the heart, and greater success in saving healthy breast tissue.

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