A new study shows that a more effective approach towards treating breast cancer is the administration of higher doses of chemotherapy in a shorter period of time, which could prove to be more beneficial than lower doses over longer periods of time. Up till now, radiation has been considered to be one of the most effective means of treatment in fighting cancer.
Chemotherapy roughly refers to the treatment of cancer via specific chemical agents or drugs that are selectively destructive to malignant cells and tissues. This means that the purpose of chemotherapy is to kill cancer cells. It is usually used to treat patients with cancer that spread from the place in the body where it started. This means of treatment even kills cells that have broken off from the main tumor and traveled through the blood or lymph systems to other parts of the body.
The scientific circle examined 267 female breast cancer sufferers, ranging from age 40 and up, who were assigned at random to receive either one of the treatment techniques, and were afterwards evaluated for side effects and quality of life. It was proven that those who had received shorter-term radiation treatment suffered less acute toxicity symptoms (for instance – breast pain, dermatitis, fatigue) in comparison to the women who were administered the long-term treatment.
Moreover, the shorter-term, higher-dose form of treatment is called hypofractionated whole-breast cancer irradiation, which has been in use for approximately 10 years in America, however, being more prominent in Canada and the UK, where, via earlier thorough studies, it was discovered that tumor control and survival rates are better when this particular treatment is used.
The recent scientific study was conducted by Dr. Simona Shaitelman, lead study author, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, who reported that patients who received the shorter course treatment reported less difficulty in caring for their families’ needs, this being a major priority for women undergoing breast cancer radiation.
The UT assistant professor of radiation oncology added that most of the patients are busy working mothers, working inside or outside the home, and who are manipulating and balancing a number of priorities. The professor continued that it was of high importance that these needs be addressed.
Dr. Theresa Schwarz, SLU Care breast cancer surgeon, explained that women on the shorter course of radiation actually had less side effects, with less skin irritation or less fatigue, compared to those who had a longer course of radiation. Dr. Schwarz also stated that they had assumed that all of the side effects would be the same, but it was proven otherwise.
Dr. Schwarz reported that the message for women 40 and older with early-stage breast cancer the standard of care should be shorter, higher-dose radiation.
The MD Anderson associate professor of radiation oncology stated that the shorter course of treatment ought to be regarded as the preferred starting point for discussion with cancer patients, if they needed whole breast radiation.
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