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Ways To Shorten Breast Cancer Treatment

Women with early-stage breast cancer may be able to shorten their time in treatment.

Researchers in Canada studied over one thousand women who found their disease early, half received traditional radiation treatment over a five week period. The other half had accelerated treatment, higher doses over three weeks time. They found recurrence rates over ten years were roughly the same between the two groups.

Researchers say accelerated treatment could improve a patient's quality of life because they don't spend as much time undergoing therapy, and it's cheaper. It can also shorten wait lists.

Another type of radiation, called brachytherapy, may allow women to go through their entire radiation treatment in just one week. This type of radiation takes place after a tumor has been removed, doctors
insert a small balloon in the cavity where the tumor was and inject high doses of radiation into it.

A study of 400 women with the disease found those who had brachytherapy had the same rate of cancer recurrence as those who underwent weeks of traditional treatment. Experts say more long term studies are needed.

Another type of radiation called proton therapy may lower the chance of developing cancer again. One of the risks though of radiation therapy is damaging healthy tissue around the Tumor.

Proton therapy directly attacks the tumor with minimal effects to surrounding Tissue. Experts looked at the rate of secondary cancers caused by exposure to radiation and found 6 percent of proton therapy patients had a recurrence, compared To nearly 13 percent of patients who had traditional radiation.

Experts say the chance of developing a radiation-induced secondary cancer is Low. These study results will have the biggest impact on children, who are Expected to live longer after cancer treatment.


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