Nav: Home

Older breast cancer patients see more complications with brachytherapy

October 22, 2012

The breast cancer treatment brachytherapy--heralded for its low complication rates--actually results in more complications than whole-breast radiation one year after treatment, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in the October issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The standard treatment for older women with early stage breast cancer includes breast-conserving surgery, typically followed by radiation therapy to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Rather than irradiating larger areas of the breast, as in whole breast irradiation, brachytherapy temporarily implants radiation sources in catheters within the surgical site. This technique delivers larger and fewer radiation doses directly to the breast tissue, which results in a shortened treatment time and, proponents of the therapy believe, decreased toxicity to surrounding healthy tissue.

"This treatment method seems ideal in theory, but we found it concerning that such an important clinical decision that affects so many women was being made on the basis of theory, rather than scientific evidence," said the study's lead author Cary P. Gross, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine. "Despite the absence of large randomized controlled trials comparing these two treatments, brachytherapy has become increasingly popular, in part because of a theoretically lower rate of complications."

To test the theory, Gross' team studied a national sample of approximately 30,000 women with Medicare coverage and found that 15.8% of women undergoing radiation therapy received brachytherapy in 2008-2009, up from less than 1% in 2000 and 10% in 2006. There was substantial variation in brachytherapy use across the country, ranging from less than 5% of patients in some areas to over 70% in others.

The team found that the use of brachytherapy was associated with a 16.9% higher rate of wound and skin complications in the year after treatment compared to whole breast irradiation. There was no significant difference in the rate of deep tissue or bone complications between the two treatments.

"This study highlights the importance of conducting comparative effectiveness research before a new treatment becomes widespread," said Gross, who is co-director of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at Yale. "Medicare is spending significantly more money to cover this treatment, which potentially exposes women to a higher risk of complications than the 'tried and true' whole breast irradiation."
-end-
Other Yale authors on the study include Carolyn Presley, Pamela Soulos, Jeph Herrin, James Yu, Kenneth Roberts, and Jessica Long. Gross is the director of the Cancer Outcomes, Public Policy, and Effectiveness Research (COPPER) Center at the Yale Cancer Center.

The study was funded by a grant from the National Cancer Institute (RO1CA149045)

Yale University

Related Radiation Therapy Articles:

Developing microbeam radiation therapy (MRT) for inoperable cancer
An innovative radiation treatment that could one day be a valuable addition to conventional radiation therapy for inoperable brain and spinal tumors is a step closer, thanks to new research led by University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers at the Canadian Light Source (CLS).
Travel considerations specified for 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy patients
Researchers and patient advocates have addressed the challenges related to traveling after receiving 177Lu-DOTATATE radiation therapy in a study published in the April issue of The Journal of Nuclear Medicine.
A new way to monitor cancer radiation therapy doses
More than half of all cancer patients undergo radiation therapy and the dose is critical.
AI can jump-start radiation therapy for cancer patients
Artificial intelligence can help cancer patients start their radiation therapy sooner -- and thereby decrease the odds of the cancer spreading -- by instantly translating complex clinical data into an optimal plan of attack.
Towards safer, more effective cancer radiation therapy using X-rays and nanoparticles
X-rays could be tuned to deliver a more effective punch that destroys cancer cells and not harm the body.
Radiation therapy effective against deadly heart rhythm
A single high dose of radiation aimed at the heart significantly reduces episodes of a potentially deadly rapid heart rhythm, according to results of a phase one/two study at Washington University School of Medicine in St.
New mathematical model can improve radiation therapy of brain tumours
Researchers have developed a new model to optimize radiation therapy and significantly increase the number of tumor cells killed during treatment.
Using artificial intelligence to deliver personalized radiation therapy
New Cleveland Clinic-led research shows that artificial intelligence (AI) can use medical scans and health records to personalize the dose of radiation therapy used to treat cancer patients.
'Seeing the light' behind radiation therapy
Delivering just the right dose of radiation for cancer patients is a delicate balance in their treatment regime.
Working to advance radiation therapy for children with cancer
Doctors at Children's Hospital Los Angeles use novel software to increase quality assurance in radiation therapy.
More Radiation Therapy News and Radiation Therapy Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.