Women face many difficult decisions in their lives. But, when faced with breast cancer, the treatment choices become especially complex.
How do women weigh the treatment choices with other responsibilities? If they choose breast-conserving surgery, a lumpectomy, they face a long series of radiation treatments. The typical protocol calls for treatment five days per week, for six to seven weeks. How does a workingwoman, including moms who work at raising our next generation, fit that into their schedule?
This is one of the primary factors shaping the choice of many women to opt for a mastectomy. While it may not be their optimal choice, it simplifies the follow-up care tremendously.
But... There is some good news from researchers at the Fox Chase Cancer Center.
They report success in shortening the radiation treatment protocol to only four weeks. They accomplish this by increasing the strength of the daily radiation treatments. By utilizing a highly accurate radiation delivery system known as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), they are able to target the breast tissue with an even-dose distribution of radiation. The IMRT system also helps reduce side effects, by lowering the amount of radiation received by vital organs, such as the lungs and heart.
The researchers have called for longer-term follow-up to assess the effectiveness at five years post treatment.
Keep your fingers crossed - anything that can be done to shorten the treatment cycle, and get women back to their normal routines quickly is good news for everyone.