Women who undergo partial or reduced breast radiotherapy report fewer side effects

Women who undergo partial or reduced breast radiotherapy report fewer side effects

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | March 29, 2018
Women's Health
Research presented at the European Breast Cancer Conference on Friday revealed that patients treated with partial or reduced-dose breast radiotherapy experience fewer side effects than those who undergo whole-breast radiotherapy.

“These latest results add to the evidence that partial-breast radiotherapy may be considered for patients with low-risk breast cancer,” Dr. Indrani Bhattacharya, clinical research fellow at the Institute of Cancer Research’s Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit in the U.K., told HCB News.

The IMPORT LOW study conducted in 2016 already proved that partial-breast and reduced dose radiotherapy are as effective as whole breast radiotherapy at controlling low risk breast cancer at five years. More than half of those patients (1,265) participated in the new study that investigated patient-reported outcomes.

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The women were asked about side effects at the start of the study and then after six months, one year, two years and five years after radiotherapy. The side effects included hardening of tissue, pain, over-sensitivity of the treated area and build-up of fluid.

The most common side effect was an overall change in breast appearance. The women were more likely to report adverse side-effects if they were younger, had larger breasts, a larger volume of breast tissue removed at surgery, if the cancer spread to lymph nodes and if they were depressed or anxious at the start of the study.

“Information regarding the patient and tumour obtained before radiotherapy may be used to identify which patients tend to report more adverse effects,” said Bhattacharya. “This may contribute to the informed discussion and shared decision-making process between future patients and clinicians.”

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