Did you know that radiation therapy might help prevent the return of breast cancer?
Fox news reports on how radiation therapy can help prevent breast cancer recurrence in women. Two new studies show that radiation therapy in the lymph nodes may help deter cancer from reoccurring in the breasts.
The New England Journal of Medicine is publishing two studies that show that radiation therapy may decrease the rate of breast cancer recurrence. “The research illustrates that targeting the therapy to lymph nodes as well as the breast, where the cancer begins, can prevent the disease from spreading,” according to Fox.
How does radiation help?
Experts are saying that radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells while limiting damage to healthy cells. The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic are saying it is usually done after a lumpectomy and sometimes following a mastectomy to help prevent the local recurrence of breast cancer. In treatment plans for breast cancer, radiation is applied to cancerous cells in the breast and sometimes in the lymph nodes under the arm or at the collarbone.
What is significant about these two new studies?
In these studies, the first involving over 1,800 women at the Juravinski Cancer Center at Hamilton Health Services in Canada, and the second more than 4,000 women at Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands, they show that giving radiation to the lymph nodes did not prevent survival rates of breast cancer patients, but it did decrease recurrence rates which is also helpful.
Dr. Rahul Tendulkar, a breast cancer specialist at Cleveland Clinic, commented on the study. He said, “By treating a larger area to include the lymph nodes, it not only prevented recurrences from happening locally in the area of the breast and the lymph nodes but also prevented breast cancer from showing up elsewhere in the body.”
What was common to both of the studies?
Researchers for each study had participants who had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. The study’s authors then analyzed how radiation therapy utilized in patients’ lymph nodes affected the spread of breast cancer compared to radiation therapy delivered only to the affected breast. Both of the studies proved that radiation therapy in the lymph nodes aided in preventing recurrence of the cancer.
Dr. Tendulkar also noted that the results imply a greater need for more personalized care in breast cancer treatment, as every person’s case is different. In addition he insisted that there are many different varieties of breast cancer and numerous different factors that must be taken into consideration when coming up with a treatment plan for each patient.