Optimal radiation therapy associated with improved survival from breast cancer
3 January 2006
A new analysis has found that an optimal dose of radiation therapy for women with breast cancer is associated with better survival, measured at 10 years after treatment with surgery.
The study findings, which are reported in the January 4 2006 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, help resolve controversy over whether radiation therapy improves survival in women with operable breast cancer.
Past studies have concluded that radiation therapy reduces the risk of recurrence of breast cancer, but does not improve overall survival rates,
However, in some clinical trials, radiation therapy was given in inadequate or excessive doses or did not target an appropriate amount of tissue, including the chest wall and lymph nodes.
Associate Professor Val Gebski, of the National Health and Medical Research Council Clinical Trials Centre at the University of Sydney, and colleagues reanalyzed results from 36 clinical trials in which the use of radiation therapy was the sole difference between the treatments given to breast cancer patients.
They found that after ten years, patients who had received optimal radiation doses delivered to an appropriate amount of tissue had a 6.4 per cent higher survival rate than patients who received an inadequate or excessive dose, or those who had received radiation therapy to an inadequate amount of tissue.
Gebski and colleagues conclude that optimal radiation therapy improves patient survival, and recommend that post-mastectomy radiation therapy be considered for all patients at high risk.
“The evidence suggests that the survival of these patients with breast cancer would be increased with radiation therapy, although the amount of the increase would depend on the risk profile of the patient,” the authors write.
Contact: A/Professor Val Gebski, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre
Phone: +61 2 9562 5000 or +61 2 9845 6499
Pictured: Mammograms test for breast cancer