Experimental concentrated breast cancer radiation therapy offers new options for women who live far away from treatment facilities

A study at the University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center designed to make  radiation treatment more accessible to women who face obstacles such as distance, transportation problems and time constraints is proving promising. The idea is to cut daily trips to the cancer center to once a week, says Dr. Anthony Dragon, a radiation oncologist at U of L. It also has the added benefit of cutting treatment costs by better than half.

Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal in Louisville reports that
Dragun led a previous study that found that “about a third of Kentucky women with early-stage breast cancer didn’t get recommended radiation treatments after lumpectomy surgery.

Among those least likely to get radiation were rural Kentuckians, the elderly, African Americans and women in the Appalachian region of the state.

Women who did not get recommended radiation were 60 percent more likely to die during the time they were studied.”

Dragun told Ungar that the folks at U of L were not satisfied with just gathering those numbers, they wanted solutions to the problem. Dragun said the new experimental regimen is yielding good results, with women who get weekly radiation reporting similar levels of side effects as those getting radiation every day.

Ungar notes that some outside experts say the approach does seems promising, but one critic was concerned about breast appearance results after the once-a-week treatments.

According the National Cancer Institute, more than 3,070 new cases of breast cancer were diagnosed in Kentucky in 2009 and was responsible for 614 deaths.  (Read more

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