A new study has found that two-thirds of American women with early-stage breast cancer receive radiation therapy for much longer duration than actually necessary for them.
The study was carried by Penn Medicine researchers Justin E. Bekelman, MD and Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD.
The study has exposed the practical realities of the breast cancer treatment. In their research work, the researchers has exposed how the medical professionals are unaware of or defy the professional society guidelines and the multiple randomized trials that show requirement of just three weeks of radiation – known as hypofractionated whole breast radiation – to get a clinically effective, more convenient, and less costly treatment procedure.
“Hypofractionated radiation is infrequently used for women with early-stage breast cancer, even though it’s high-quality, patient-centric cancer care at lower cost,” said lead study author Bekelman, who is an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology, Medical Ethics and Health Policy in Perelman School of Medicine and Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
The study showed that a vast majority of females receive six to seven weeks of radiation therapy after their breast conserving surgery.
“Just three weeks of radiation is clinically equivalent to longer duration radiation in curing breast cancer, has similar side effects, is more convenient for patients, and allows patients to return to work or home sooner.”
Under the hypofractionated whole breast radiation, the patient is exposed to higher doses of radiation for three to four weeks. The use of this radiation technique is backed by 2011 practice guidelines from the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and four randomized trials.
The study’s findings were published this week in the journal JAMA.