Breast Cancer Study Shows New Radiation Therapy Not as Safe, Effective
A breast cancer study being presented Wednesday at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in Texas shows that a faster form of radiation therapy may not be as safe and effective as conventional radiation treatment, The New York Times reports.
According to the study of more than 130,000 women receiving Medicare, women who underwent Brach therapy were twice as likely as those who underwent conventional whole breast radiation to have a mastectomy in the five years following the procedure — a sign that the disease may have come back.
According to the study, brachytherapy was also associated with a higher rate of infections, rib fractures, fat necrosis and breast pain.
“Honestly, it was somewhat shocking to me when I got this data for the first time,” Dr. Benjamin D. Smith, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and lead investigator on the study, told the Times.
Brachytherapy, a treatment that is becoming increasingly popular among women with early-stage breast cancer, uses a catheter to deliver radiation directly into the cavity left after undergoing a lumpectomy. Because the radiation is delivered directly to the affected area, the treatment can be completed in a week, compared with six or seven weeks for whole breast radiation.