According to the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology in Boston, half of participants who underwent three weeks of daily treatments for early breast cancer that last 15 minutes each, and half who underwent standard radiation therapy for five weeks, showed low rates of cancer recurrence — 6.2% for participants who underwent the accelerated therapy and 6.7% for those who underwent standard therapy after 10 to 12 years of study. The study also found that about 70% of participants in both groups had an excellent cosmetic outcome, with little shrinkage, scarring or breast discoloration from the radiation. The accelerated therapy also cost two-thirds less than the standard therapy.
The results of the study provide strongest evidence that radiation schedules can safely be shortened to make life easier for patients, and let clinics treat more women without buying more machines. This could change treatment practices in the U.S., reports the New York Times. Accelerated radiation therapy is offered at some U.S. Hospitals, but the treatment is more common in European countries and Canada.