A new early study presented today (Wednesday 9 March 2016) at the European Breast Cancer Conference in Amsterdam could lead to a crucial change in radiotherapy treatment for women with breast cancer.

The study has shown that, following breast-conserving surgeryradiotherapy aimed just at the area immediately surrounding where the tumour had been offered the same low rates of local recurrence to patients as radiotherapy to the whole breast.

Radiotherapy to the whole breast is standard treatment after breast-conserving surgery for women with early breast cancer, even those who have a low risk of the disease returning in the breast. However, whole breast radiotherapy can cause changes in the appearance of the breast, which may also be firmer and tender to the touch, resulting in psychological distress.

Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, said:

“These are early but promising results that could be of real benefit to breast cancer patients in the future.

“Radiotherapy is a standard part of treatment for almost all women with breast cancer, and an opportunity to reduce toxicity from treatment would be invaluable. The fact that this approach could also reduce the impact of treatment on the appearance of their breasts is also significant, particularly at an already distressing time for patients.

“Breast cancer can of course recur many years after first diagnosis and so we now look forward to the planned follow-up of this study to confirm these results.”

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