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Radiotherapy boost shown to reduce treatment times for breast cancer patients

Every year, around 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with the condition

The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust has revealed positive results from a phase 3 trial, which found that radiotherapy treatment times could be reduced for patients living with early breast cancer.

Among one of the most common cancers in the UK, breast cancer affects around 55,000 women every year.

Results from the IMPORT HIGH trial demonstrated that giving breast cancer patients a targeted dose of radiotherapy at the same time as simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) treatment could cut treatment duration by about one week.

SIB radiotherapy involves the irradiation of all target volumes during the entire treatment period, delivering different dose levels simultaneously in different target volumes.

Additionally, results showed that SIB radiotherapy works just as efficiently as standard radiotherapy techniques when given at the right dose to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence five years after treatment.

The randomised trial has been testing dose-escalated, intensity-modulated radiotherapy for women treated by breast conservation surgery and appropriate systemic surgery for early breast cancer.

Since September 2015, 2,621 patients from UK hospitals have participated in the trial. They were divided into one of three groups and will be followed up after ten years.

Two groups were allocated to either of the two treatment arms, where patients would receive varying doses of radiotherapy across the breast with a concomitant boost dose to the tumour bed.

The third group contained patients in the control arm who received standard radiotherapy.

The National Institute for Health Research, Cancer Research UK and the Department of Health funded the trial, along with the Institute of Cancer Research, which sponsored the study.

Dr Anna Kirby, consultant clinical oncology at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We hope that the results from this trial will allow breast cancer patients to benefit from advanced radiotherapy techniques delivered over fewer hospital visits, enabling them to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible.”


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