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Large European Study: Increased cure of breast cancer with extra “boost” irradiation after surgery

A large European study shows that an extra “boost dose” of irradiation after surgery for breast cancer improves the chance of cure.

That is the conclusion of Professor Harry Bartelink, from the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Hospital (NKI-AVL) in Amsterdam, and his colleagues in the August issue of the top oncology journal Journal of Clinical Oncology.

During this randomized study, more than 5000 breast cancer patients were followed for 10 years. The research is a collaboration between the NKI-AVL and 32 other European research institutes, lead by Professor Harry Bartelink.

In the Netherlands, about 1 in 9 women get breast cancer. Breast cancer is therefore the most common cancer in women. Approximately 80% of the women are treated with breast conserving surgery.

Professor Harry Bartelink and his colleagues followed breast cancer patients who received two doses of irradiation after surgery: a dose of 50 Gy, followed by an extra “boost” dose of 16 Gy. The boost dose lead to a 40% reduction in the chance of tumor recurrence after breast conserving surgery. The largest gain was shown for young women with breast cancer. Another important point is that with this treatment more than 80% of the patients are alive at 10 years after treatment.

Bartelink: “The favourable treatment results are partly due to the strict quality control that the participating centers had to adhere to. The outcome of this trial has lead to a worldwide change in the treatment policy for women with breast cancer”.

In a new Dutch collaboration the Professor of Radiotherapy has started a large study where he hopes to further improve the treatment results for young women with breast cancer. At the same time, ways to use modern molecular techniques for predicting sensitivity to radiation are being investigated.

Frederique Melman | alfa
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