Breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer in women, regardless of their age or ethnicity. Treatment usually includes radiation that is applied in small doses over a long period of time. This method is traditionally called ” conventionally fractionated whole breast irradiation” (CF-WBI).
However, a new study shows that the treatment with high doses of radiation for a shorter period of time – “hypofractionated whole breast radiation” (HF-WBI) can be much more effective, even if studies carried out in the past would not have agreed with this.
“Patients who received the shorter course reported less difficulty in caring for their families’ needs. This is a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation. Most are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and are juggling a number of priorities. It’s paramount that we address this need,” ,” stated Dr. Simona Shaitelman, who is an assistant professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.”
The study involved almost 300 women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in an incipient form. Some of these women were treated with conventionally fractionated whole breast irradiation and the others with hypofractionated whole breast radiation.
When the results were compared, the experts were surprised to see that those who had received HF-WBI had lowered their risk of developing dermatitis by 30 percent, their pain by 19 percent and the acute toxic effects by 31 percent. Moreover, they felt less tired and had less difficulty in dealing with their families.
Another study carried out by experts at the University of Michigan supports the same theory . Patients who benefitted from hypofractionated whole breast radiation had improved their quality of life considerably, compared to those who underwent conventional treatment. Thus, the results were quite similar, as they showed women had 20 percent less breast pain, 14 percent less swelling and were 11 percent less tired.
Both these studies were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Oncology.
Health experts working with cancer patients agree with these findings. One of them is Dr. Benjamin Smith, from the University of Texas, who was also involved in the study. He believes that HF-WBI is a wonderful solution for breast cancer patients.
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