Two-day breast cancer treatment offers same results as five-day

10/30/2012

A breast cancer comparison study presented Oct. 30 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology, or ASTRO, shows that two-day radiation therapy treatment produced results similar to five-day treatment in those with early stage breast cancer.

Principal investigator Peter Chen, M.D., radiation oncologist, Beaumont Health System compared clinical outcomes using Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation, or APBI. APBI is used to treat only the part of the breast at highest risk. This technique delivers a radioactive seed, about the size of a grain of rice, to the area while minimizing radiation exposure to normal surrounding breast tissue.

Beaumont is the only hospital in Michigan and one of few in the nation offering the two-day radiation therapy treatment for early-stage breast cancer.

Dr. Chen and a team of researchers reviewed data of 114 patients who were treated between June 2000 and January 2011 with either a two-day or a five-day APBI schedule. The results of the comparison showed no significant differences in cancer recurrence, survival rate or spreading of cancer to other organs or lymph nodes. The results showed nearly five years after, the two-day regimen clinical outcomes were equivalent to the five-day plan.

"This comparison has shown a true benefit to using time-compressed, precise radiation therapy to treat breast cancer," says Dr. Chen. "Women who may already have full schedules with managing professional and family life will have the opportunity to receive therapy in fewer days with quicker recovery as compared with traditional radiation therapy treatments which take 6 ½ weeks."

Marilou Thomas of Clinton Township was the first patient in the nation to receive the two-day treatment March 2004. She is free of breast cancer. Thomas explains she was happy to try a medical treatment to help advance breast cancer treatment.

"Being the first person [to try the accelerated treatment] makes me feel wonderful because I can help somebody else [with cancer]," says Thomas. "I made up my mind, I am going to beat this; it's not going to beat me."

The American Cancer Society estimates about 226,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be found in U.S. women in 2012. As a result of detecting and treating cancer earlier, breast cancer death rates have been decreasing. According to American Cancer Society, there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

Beaumont's radiation oncology department is ranked among the nation's best for advanced technology, innovative treatment and research. Advanced radiation treatments developed at Beaumont include adaptive radiation therapy, image-guided radiation therapy, high-dose rate brachytherapy and hyperthermia therapy. Find out more at cancer.beaumont.edu/radiation-oncology.

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