New study results that were recently presented at this year’s Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco by University of Louisville’s vice chair and associate professor of radiation oncology Dr. Anthony Dragun reveal a newly devised radiation therapy regimen involving only once-weekly breast radiation following lumpectomy, instead of the standard practice of daily radiation.
This experimental regimen has been in the process of testing and development for the past three years, having first launched at the University of Louisville, James Graham Brown Cancer Center, according to an article by Jill Scoggins n the university’s UofL Today. In addition, a wide-ranging 5-year Phase 2 clinical trial showing better completion results at lower costs and the same cosmetic results as daily radiation therapy.
This trial included approximate 150 breast cancer patients who underwent lumpectomy. As part of the experiment, participants were given the opportunity to choose between either a once-weekly radiation treatment, or a daily radiation treatment.
While there were some changes made to doses of radiation, researchers reported that the changes had no substantial impact on therapy outcomes.
“The outcomes with once-weekly treatments are absolutely in line with what we see in daily breast irradiation. The standard of care is maintained,” Dr. Dragun said in the UofL Today article.
So far, doctors have favored the standard regimen of small daily radiation doses after lumpectomy for cancer control. However, daily radiation throughout a significant period of time can be inconvenient for patients regarding associated costs.
Furthermore, researchers observed that patients living in rural areas who have to travel miles to get to their treatment centers benefit immensely with this new regimen, since according to Dr. Dragun, many patients had considered getting mastectomies due to lack of traditional radiotherapy commitment.
Because insurers reimburse on a per-radiation basis, this regimen also lowers costs, since it reduces the total treatment time by one-fourth to one-third of currently used treatments.
“Medicare reimburses radiation costs on a per-treatment basis, and most private insurers do likewise. This means we’ve been able to reduce the cost by 50 to 60 percent without jeopardizing the quality of care,” Dr. Dragun added.
This new regimen can be widely adopted by oncologists in the future, since it demonstrates potential benefits when compared to traditional radiation treatments.