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Nearly half of women with advanced breast cancer in the US not receiving life-saving treatment
Date:6/27/2011

HOUSTON Forty-five percent of women with advanced breast cancer in the U.S. did not receive postmastectomy radiation therapy (PMRT) despite the publication of evidence-based guidelines outlining PMRT as a potentially lifesaving treatment, according to new research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The study, published in the July issue of Cancer, found that PMRT use rates for women with advanced breast cancer have remained static since 1999. According to the research, of the nearly 5,000 women diagnosed with high-risk breast cancer between 1999 through 2005, only 55 percent received PRMT. Paradoxically, PMRT use increased among intermediate-risk patients, even though the established guidelines do not strongly recommend the therapy for such patients.

"The findings add to the debate on the effectiveness of standardized treatment guidelines," says Benjamin Smith, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson and lead author of the study. "There's a clear gap between the scientific evidence demonstrating PMRT's benefits and the proper use of the therapy in everyday clinical practice."

From 1999 to 2002, organizations including the National Cancer Institute, the American Society for Clinical Oncology and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, published a series of evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of PMRT in response to three landmark randomized, controlled trials that proved PMRT decreased locoregional recurrence and improved survival rates among high-risk breast cancer patients.

According to Smith, better strategies are needed to bring clinical evidence into practice. The researchers offer several tactics to increase the use of PMRT among high-risk patients, which requires adopting an active dissemination model of materials and physician accountability. For example:

  • Require compliance for accreditation. Organizations like the American Colle
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Contact: William Fitzgerald
wbfitzgerald@mdanderson.org
713-792-9518
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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