Friday, August 7, 2015

Shorter radiation is better

Sometimes editing takes out all the important information. This took  a lot of digging to find out what the hell it was talking about.

I first came across this article which says higher dose shorter radiation is better that the traditional radiation given to breast cancer patients. This makes sense because the damage from radiation is cumulative meaning that it gets worse and worse after each treatment. Other side effects such as fatigue are also lessened from the shorter course of treatment.

Well that is nice to know but how much shorter is it? I couldn't tell but did go find the referenced article, Differences in the Acute Toxic Effects of Breast Radiotherapy by Fractionation Schedule: Comparative Analysis of Physician-Assessed and Patient-Reported Outcomes in a Large Multicenter Cohort, on JAMA Oncology. You got that?

How's this instead?

"Randomized trials have established that hypofractionated regimens of radiotherapy to the whole breast can provide long-term disease control that is equivalent to the excellent outcomes of more protracted conventional fractionation schedules in selected patients undergoing lumpectomy for breast cancer. Hypofractionation might also result in lower rates of late toxic effects than conventional fractionation. Although the American Society for Radiation Oncology has issued consensus guidelines to identify patients in whom hypofractionation is appropriate and endorsed consideration of hypofractionation in its Choosing Wisely campaign, uptake of hypofractionated regimens has demonstrated considerable variability worldwide and has been relatively slow within the United States."

Okay, what if I tell you this:

"Traditionally, women undergoing lumpectomy for breast cancer were treated with 5-6 weeks of daily radiation after surgery. "Hypofractionated" regimens are shorter courses of radiation, in which a slightly larger dose of radiation is given per day, allowing radiation to be delivered in a shorter period of time, most commonly in 3-4 weeks."

Finally, I get to the truth and find that 2 weeks less, slightly higher dose radiation offers fewer side effects? Why couldn't they say that first?

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