Research says that giving extra radiotherapy to patients with early breast cancer significantly reduces the risk of cancer recurring in the breast. The results were so clear that clinical practice should be changed immediately, particularly for younger women.
Nearly five thousand patients took part in the study. The majority of patients had undergone complete removal of their tumor. All the patients had 50Gy radiation to the whole breast and were randomised to receive either a 16Gy boost localised to the tumour bed area or no further radiotherapy. After a follow-up of over five years, only 109 patients in the booster group had suffered a recurrence.
It demonstrates clearly that a 16Gy boost significantly improves local control. Patients who had the boost had an overall local control rate of 95%, and survival at five years was 91%. The largest benefit was seen in women aged under 40, where the chances of recurrence were cut by 54%. Patients will be followed up for many years to see whether booster doses will also cut mortality.
These impressive results mean that a boost should now be considered the standard treatment for early breast cancer, particularly in younger women.