Tuesday, August 25, 2020

If 80% benefit from a treatment, is that enough?

Researchers confirm lone targeted radiation dose may work as well as longer breast-cancer course 

Can one dose of targeted radiation be as effective a breast-cancer treatment as a longer course of radiation?

Yes, according to a story by BBC health reporter Rachel Schraer last week that reports as well that researchers "said people who received the shorter treatment were also less likely to die of other cancers and heart disease." 

There exists a challenge to the study, however.

Some cancer specialists point out, the BBC piece says, that 20 percent of the patients studied received extra doses of radiotherapy.
         Professor Jayant Vaidya
According to Schraer's article, Professor Jayant Vaidya, lead author of the study, while noting that 80 percent still benefitted, "said he had expected a proportion of the women to need extra radiotherapy, since post-op tests could reveal tumors were bigger or more aggressive than expected."

Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy, which was developed by doctors at University College London, where Vaidya toils in addition to having a private practice, involves the lone dose being delivered by a small device placed inside the breast directly on the site of the cancer immediately after the tumor is surgically removed.

The procedure takes place during the same operation as the removal.

Standard radiation treatments normally call for between 15 and 30 additional hospital visits, although that number has temporarily been reduced to about five because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Findings, involving 2,298 women with breast cancer in 10 countries, were based on 10-year marks and reported in original researchThis follow-up study, which tracked women up to five years after their treatment, confirmed the original conclusion.

Previous studies, not incidentally, "had shown the [single-dose] treatment also had fewer radiation-related side-effects, including pain and changes to the breast's appearance," Schraer writes. 

Information about other treatments can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers. 

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