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Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in Breast cancer | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study investigated the impact of whole breast radiation therapy (WBRT) and accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) on the severity of post-treatment side effects and quality of life. This study concluded that both forms of radiation therapy (RT) show similar survival benefits and similar quality of life in early-stage breast cancer patients.

Some background

In women under age 70, early-stage breast cancer is usually treated with breast-conserving surgery (BCS, removal of just the tumor) and RT. APBI is a form of RT which shows similar local control and overall survival outcome in a shorter time when compared to WBRT in early-stage patients. Some patients choose this form of RT due to the speed and convenience of treatment. While prior studies have compared outcomes such as skin toxicity and cosmetic outcomes, there has not been a direct comparison of quality of life between WBRT and APBI.

Methods & findings

The current study compared side effects and quality of life in patients undergoing different types of RT. The records of 275 patients over the age of 40 were included in this study. 172 were treated with WBRT and 113 were treated with APBI. Patient quality of life following surgery and RT was assessed through a series of Interviews which were conducted 6 weeks, 6 months, 1 year and 2 years after BCS. 

Patients who received WBRT experienced more fatigue and skin irritation at the 6 month interview than those who received APBI. The two types of RT otherwise had a similar impact on quality of life at the 2 year follow up.

The bottom line

The study concluded that APBI resulted in less severe, short term side effects in early-stage breast cancer patients when compared to WBRT.  At the two year point, both types of RT had a similar impact on quality of life.

The fine print

This study relied on self-reported information from patients; in some cases this information could not be verified from the patients’ medical records. Further, the study did not account for different types of APBI and WBRT or women below the age of 40.

What’s next?

Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of APBI and WBRT with your doctor.

Published By :

Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

Date :

Jan 28, 2017

Original Title :

Accelerated partial breast irradiation compared with whole breast radiation therapy: a breast cancer cohort study measuring change in radiation side-effects severity and quality of life.

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