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Targeted Radiation May Not Be Better for Breast Cancer
Date:12/7/2011

percent increased risk of being hospitalized, and faced an 85 percent increased risk of infection, as well as higher risks of radiation-connected side effects such as breast pain and rib fracture.

Although brachytherapy is an invasive procedure involving a catheter while whole breast irradiation is not, it does have its advantages, namely convenience.

Brachytherapy is given twice a day for one week only, whereas traditional radiation therapy involves going to the doctor once a day for six weeks, explained Dr. Lucille Lee, attending physician in the department of radiation medicine at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

"The main reason to do brachytherapy is for patient convenience, as we know that people who tend to be treated in this fashion tend to be older and may not be able to come for therapy Monday through Friday. It's an alternative to that," she said. "If you look at it that way, there are pros and cons to the treatment. These are risks that a person might accept."

Lee also noted that a 4 percent mastectomy rate is still relatively low.

Said Smith: "This is a helpful piece of information that I think physicians and patients can consider when picking treatment options. From more of a health-services perspective, it's an interesting window into early results with a new treatment that was adopted before we had mature results from long-term, phase 3 randomized trials."

The study authors acknowledged that their review had limitations, including the fact that it wasn't a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, and the five-year follow-up period was relatively short.

Research presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary because it hasn't been subjected to the scrutiny required of studies published in peer-reviewed journals.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute'/>"/>

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