NEW DELHI: A new multi-country research spanning 19 years, which could change breast cancer treatment and reduce death rates and costs for patients, has shown that a single dose of radiotherapy at the time of lumpectomy is as effective as 3-6 weeks of radiotherapy after surgery.
In India, where the disease pushes thousands into poverty each year, this would also translate into lower costs of treatment and lower death rates. The study, led by an Indian origin scientist attached with the University College, London, comes a day after a cancer report in India, which projected nearly 14 lakh new cancer cases this year. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in India.
The findings of the international randomised trial, published in the BMJ, confirm the long-term effectiveness of targeted intra-operative radiotherapy (TARGIT-IORT), a breast cancer treatment increasingly available throughout the world.
TARGIT-IORT is delivered immediately after lumpectomy (tumour removal) via a small ball-shaped device placed directly inside the breast where the cancer had been. The single-dose treatment lasts for around 20-30 minutes. Conventional beam radiotherapy is delivered from outside the body via a machine and consists of a daily session over a period of three to six weeks. Each of these sessions lasts a few minutes, but requires 15 to 30 hospital visits. The findings show that with TARGIT-IORT therapy, eight out of every 10 patients had no need for any further post-operative radiotherapy treatment.