gainst the background of advances in technology and precision techniques, studies and trials have shown that five days of treatment, or even less, could be just as effective at treating tumours for thousands of cancer patients and spare them from weeks of back-to-back hospital visits.
New trials have repeatedly showed that the new shorter treatment was safe and without additional side effects, despite concerns that higher doses of radiotherapy could cause greater damage to healthy tissue.
Radiation therapy or radiotherapy, often abbreviated RT, RTx, or XRT, is a therapy using ionising radiation, generally as part of cancer treatment to control or kill malignant cells and normally delivered by a linear accelerator.
The ‘Mailonline’ quoted the President of the Royal College of Radiologists, Dr. Jeanette Dickson, who is a consultant lung oncologist as saying, “Patients want the best treatment, but also want minimal disruption to their lives.
“If four weeks is as good as six weeks, or one week as good as three weeks, they prefer the shorter option.”
In December, The Mail on Sunday reported on how specialists hoped that breast cancer could soon be beaten in a week.
And the findings of a new UK study, published this April in medical journal ‘The Lancet,’ has now proved that to be the case.
The ‘Mailonline’ reported that there were about 55,200 new cases of breast cancer in the UK every year – and 63 per cent of patients would go on to have radiotherapy as part of their initial treatment.
However, normally, women with early-stage breast cancer receive 15 doses of radiation to their tumour after surgery, delivered over three weeks.
The report stated that the fast-forward trial, led by a team at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, found that giving five larger daily doses over the course of one week was just as safe and effective.
“It is hoped this will change standard practice in the UK – and make the treatment of breast cancer more convenient for women,” added the report.
According to Dr. Dickson: “The fewer visits you have to make to the oncology centre, the less chance you have of catching an infection such as Covid-19 – either from other patients, staff, or by just being out of your home.”
Shorter treatments also reduce the burden on services, and not just for breast cancer.
Dickson is keen to stress that changes in care have only been made where there is evidence to support them.
But she admitted that COVID-19 has ‘accelerated’ the adoption of these new, quicker approaches to treating cancer. And many experts hope they would be here to stay.
“Regardless of Covid, one week of treatment versus three weeks is an advantage for the patient,” she said