A new technique for administering breast cancer radiotherapy is more effective, more accessible, less expensive and less time-consuming for the patients, according to an international study run jointly by The University of Western Australia and international research clinicians and that included breast cancer sufferers in WA.
Researchers from UWA who trialled the technique on almost 300 patients at the Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre were part of a study examining its effects on a total of more than 2,000 patients aged over 45 years world-wide. The results of the randomised clinical trial were presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's 46th Annual Meeting in Chicago on June 6 and were published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet.
They found that 30 minutes of in-theatre radiation could replace the more expensive and more inconvenient six weeks of external beam radiotherapy.
The researchers were aiming to determine if the risk of cancer recurrence was the same or lower with the new single-dose method than with the traditional six-week method. They administered a single radiation during surgery after the tumour was removed, irradiating the affected tissue from the inside out. The new method, targeted intra-operative radiotherapy (TARGIT©), was given using the INTRABEAM© system which has the advantage of precise radiation-dose delivery as the applicator is directly located into the tumour bed.
The trial demonstrated that TARGIT© could replace whole-breast radiotherapy and that a much smaller dose of radiation would prevent recurrence of the disease. Another advantage is reduced waiting-lists and substantial savings for health-care systems in which breast cancer may account for a third of the workload in radiotherapy departments. The side effects of the TARGIT treatment were also less.
Co-chairman of the TARGIT© steering committee and Head of Radiation Oncology at QEII Medical Centre, Clinical Professor David Joseph, said the new technique offered the easiest form of partial breast irradiation and could be performed within any hospital or treatment centre.
"As well as the obvious benefits of completing all the necessary radiotherapy in a single session at the time of surgery, this method also almost completely avoids irradiation of other parts of the body such as the heart, lung and oesophagus," Professor Joseph said.
Clinical Professor David Joseph (+61 8) 9346 4909
(UWA Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; QEII Medical Centre - Surgery; Head of Radiation Oncology)
Winthrop Professor Christobel Saunders (Deputy Head, UWA School of Surgery) (+61 8) 9346 2146
Simone Hewett (UWA Public Affairs) (+61 8) 6488 7977 / (+61 4) 20 790 097