A new study recommends that women diagnosed with breast cancer receive a new type of irradiation therapy, targeted at improving quality of life, while having the same results as typically used irradiation.
Typically, women with breast cancer are treated with conventionally fractionated whole-breast irradiation or CF-WBI. The new study, conducted by medical researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center suggests that hypofractionated conventional whole-breast irradiation or HF-WBI is better fit to both treat breast cancer while reducing toxicity, and improving the patients’ quality of life.
According to the researchers, this irradiation method is a comparably newer, better treatment for breast cancer. While CF-WBI has proved its efficiency, the therapy is outdated and has been established at a time when the medical technological advancements of today were not present.
In a randomized, unblinded trial, 287 women received CF-WBI or hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation. The groups included 149, respectively 138 patients, aged 40 or above. All patients had undergone breast conserving surgery and were diagnosed with breast cancer stage 0 to 2.
Factors that presented risk for breast cancer were also accounted for, with 76 percent of the women being obese or overweight.
The results showed that patients who received hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation presented 40 percent lower acute toxicity, compared to those who were treated with conventionally fractionated whole-breast irradiation. Furthermore, the patients who received
HF-WBI were found to have a significant increase in quality of life.
Prior to joining the study, the women completed a questionnaire that assessed their quality of life. The same questionnaire was completed in a follow-up of the study, six months after the treatment finished.
Following, the researchers reported that for patients who were treated using HF-WBI, fewer side effects were registered. As such, acute dermatitis, breast pain, pruritus, hyperpigmentation, as well as fatigue were less common among this group of patients than in the group receiving CF-WBI.
M.D. Benjamin D. Smith, author of the study, stated:
“These findings should be communicated to patients as part of shared decision making regarding election of radiotherapy regimen and are relevant to the ongoing discussion regarding the most appropriate standard of care for WBI dose fractionation”.
As such, the study, featuring in the JAMA Oncology journal recommends that hypofractionated radiotherapy is offered as the preferred treatment particularly for patients in the early stages of cancer.
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