Partial breast irradiation may have fewer side effects and maintain outcomes of current standard

Researchers from University of California, Los Angeles (CA, USA) have demonstrated that women with breast cancer who receive partial breast radiation for 1 week following a lumpectomy are not at a higher risk of recurrence or associated with any difference in cosmetic outcome compared with women given up to 6 weeks of radiation to the entire breast postsurgery. Their results were published recently in the journal Annals of Surgical Oncology.

The current standard of care is known as whole breast conservation therapy, during which the entire breast receives radiation over the course of 5–7 weeks. This prolonged exposure to radiation can result in further side effects. The new approach, previously termed accelerated partial breast irradiation with interstitial multicatheter brachytherapy, targets breast tissue in and around the area where the tumor was removed.

The team asserted that the total treatment time can be reduced to 1 week with partial breast irradiation, as the smaller target area allows for a higher dosage per treatment. Additional benefits include reduced exposure of surrounding organs, such as the lungs and heart.

This is one of the largest studies ever completed on partial breast irradiation, and took place over the course of two decades. Mitchell Kamrava (University of California, Los Angeles) and his team monitored 1000 women who had received partial breast irradiation following surgery. The average follow-up was approximately 7 years.

Kamrava commented on the work: “This gives us confidence there is a group of women who are suitable candidates for partial breast radiation and more women should discuss this treatment option with their doctors.”

The researchers have further plans to and analyze the results of randomized trials compare whole breast and partial breast irradiation.

Source: University of California, Los Angeles press release