Cutting Radiation Therapy Time In Half

It’s life changing to hear that you, or someone you love, has been diagnosed with cancer. But there is hope. A recent study published in JAMA Oncology says a new type of radiation therapy may be better for treating breast cancer… especially in the earlier stages.

Tucked away in radiation oncology at the Edith Sanford Breast Institute is a machine
called TrueBeam STX, a new addition being only two years old.

“We can do faster treatments and do more pinpoint radiation. We can monitor the patient during treatment,” says Doctor Michele Lohr of Sanford Health.

It’s a machine that patients can use when undergoing a new type of radiation therapy called hypo-fractionated radiation… but it’s easier to remember it simply as accelerated radiation.

“You provide a little bit higher dose of radiation which each fraction but less fractions so that you can get done, it’s still on a Monday through Friday basis, but you can get done in three weeks versus five or six weeks,” explained Lohr.

Which means that, as Doctor Michele Lohr said, “you allow the patient to get back to life quicker.”
 
Before Sanford started offering this treatment about a year ago, clinical trials had to be done to make sure it was safe and was equal to or better than regular radiation.

“Make sure that the hypo-fractionated radiation was just as good or not inferior to the standard fractionated radiation,” says Lohr.  “So that you did not compromise local control, did not compromise survival or you did not compromise cosmesis.”

And Doctor Michele Lohr says it’s now the preferred course of treatment because it’s very similar to traditional radiation therapy.

“You do have the same good, local control, no change in overall survival and excellent cosmesis at five and ten years,” says Lohr.

Lohr says that over the last year 50% of their breast cancer patients have been eligible and received this type of radiation. Doctors say it’s been especially helpful to those who live in rural areas and have to travel far to receive treatment.