Entries in Radiation Therapy (6)


Breast Cancer Radiation Therapy Not Linked to Long-Term Heart Complications

Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A new study has lessened concerns that early-stage breast cancer patients could be increasing their risk for heart complications from radiation therapy.

Researchers observed 50 patients with stage 1 and stage 2 breast cancer who either underwent radiation therapy (26 patients) to conserve breast tissue or a modified radical mastectomy (24 patients) that involves removing the breast.  They found that more than 25 years after treatment, both groups were at similar levels for heart function and for heart complications.

Researchers planned to present the study's findings Monday at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology in Boston.

The study's lead author, Dr. Charles Simone II, a radiation oncologist at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, attributes the findings to safer, more precise radiation therapy available now.

"We are pleased to find that early-stage breast cancer patients treated with modern radiation therapy treatment planning techniques do not have an increased risk of long-term cardiac toxicity and that breast-conservation therapy with radiation should remain a standard treatment option," Simone said in a news release.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Is Warren Buffett's Cancer Treatment Necessary?

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Warren Buffett's decision to undergo radiation therapy for stage 1 prostate cancer has refocused attention on a debate over screening and treating older men for a disease that most often won't kill them.

Prostate cancer specialists worry that because the high-profile, 81-year-old billionaire has chosen two months of daily radiation treatments, other men automatically will "assume that must be the right treatment and it must be good for me," said Dr. Peter Scardino, chairman of the surgery department at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

"Generally, in a person over 80 years old, you'd be very hesitant to treat a prostate cancer unless it's clearly life-threatening," Scardino said.  "Doctors caution men [that] at that age prostate cancer is very common.  Most of the time it's not dangerous to their life or health.  It's unusual, in our experience, to treat someone over 80, although I've done it."

Of course, no doctor wants to second-guess Buffett's decision, especially without at least two key pieces of information that he didn't disclose when he announced his diagnosis on Tuesday: his PSA score and his Gleason score, both of which help determine whether cancer is low-risk or high-risk, Scardino and other top prostate specialists said.

The PSA test measures levels of prostate specific antigen (PSA), a protein that increases in prostate cancer as well as in benign prostate enlargement.

The Gleason score measures how closely cancer cells resemble normal tissue: The higher the score, the more abnormal the tissue and the more likely it is to spread.

"One would have to know the PSA level and the Gleason grade of the cancer on biopsy to make a proper decision, but the burden would be on the physician to show why immediate treatment is needed for a stage 1 cancer in an 81-year-old man," Scardino said.

Although stage 1 prostate cancer, by definition, hasn't spread beyond the prostate gland, "you could still be stage 1 and have an aggressive tumor," said Dr. Patrick Walsh, a urology professor at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore who is among the world's top authorities on prostate cancer.

Walsh said one of his own patients, a man whose case had similarities to Buffett's, had his PSA score rise from 2.5 to 8.0 within a year and had a Gleason score of 8 on a scale of 0 to 10, indicating highly abnormal cells.

While readily acknowledging he didn't have important details of Buffett's case, he suggested that "the fact that he is waiting three months to begin radiation suggests to me that he might be going to receive neoadjuvant hormonal therapy and that is consistent with more aggressive disease."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Radiation after Lumpectomy Improves Survival, Saves Breasts

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Radiation therapy after a lumpectomy reduces the risk of cancer recurrence and improves survival in women with early stage breast cancer, according to a new study, and experts say this research helps validate their belief that women in the early stages of the disease don't have to lose their breasts.

The study, published this week in the Lancet, is an analysis of 17 different worldwide trials looking at the effects of radiation after a lumpectomy.  The research, done by the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group, an organization of hundreds of scientists from around the world who study breast cancer treatments, evaluated data from more than 10,000 women with breast cancer for an average of 10 years.

The authors found that 19 percent of women who had radiation therapy had a recurrence compared to 35 percent of women who didn't.  Women who had radiation were also at a lower risk of dying 15 years after diagnosis compared to women who didn't have radiation.

"The overall findings from these trials show that radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery not only substantially reduces the risk of recurrence but also moderately reduces the risk of death from breast cancer," the authors wrote.

Breast cancer specialists not involved in the research say while the finding that radiation following lumpectomy is effective isn't new, the study highlights that radiation is an important component of breast cancer treatment, and methods for delivering radiation have improved so they are safer.  They also say the findings offer proof that double mastectomies aren't always necessary because they are no more effective at preventing recurrence.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers Seek to Predict Radiation Therapy-Induced Cancer in Kids

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a cancer most commonly seen in children and young adults, but one that is highly treatable with radiation and chemotherapy. But the radiation treatment increases the patients’ risk of developing a second cancer even decades after initial treatment.  

Now researchers at the University of Chicago have identified two specific genetic variations that increased the risk of developing such treatment-induced cancers after screening the genes of about 300 Hodgkin's lymphoma patients, half of whom developed second cancers. For example, among these patients, only three percent of those who did not have the two variants developed second cancers, compared with almost 33 percent of those who had both.  

The authors explain in their study, published in Nature Medicine, that “this finding means we can better identify children who are most susceptible to radiation-induced cancers before treatment begins and modify their care to prevent this serious long-term complication.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Women with Advanced Breast Cancer Not Getting Needed Treatment

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- More than half of the women with high-risk, advanced breast cancer aren't receiving the radiation treatments they need, according to a new study published Monday in Cancer.

Researchers at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston analyzed data from over 38,000 women over the age of 66 who underwent a mastectomy for invasive breast cancer between 1992 and 2005.  They found that the use of radiation therapy increased between 1996 and 1998 from 37 percent to 58 percent in response to the publication of landmark clinical trials during that time period that showed the treatment saves lives.

However, since then, there’s been no further increase, and the researchers reported that between 1999 and 2005 only 55 percent of women with high-risk breast cancer actually underwent the radiation therapy.

Dr. Shirvani, the lead author of the study, said that “when physicians are not guided by published evidence, there is the chance that patient outcomes will suffer or that patients will undergo unnecessary treatments and tests.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Second Cancer Not Often Related to Radiotherapy for First Cancer

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock(BETHESDA, Md.) -- What is your risk of getting a second cancer after receiving radiation for the first cancer? Not very high.

Researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute report that the proportion of second cancers related to radiotherapy treatment for first cancer in adulthood is small.

The authors followed over 600,000 cancer patients for up to 12 years from 1973-2002.

They found that nine percent developed a second solid tumor. Of these second cancers, only eight percent could be related to radiotherapy treatment for first cancer. The authors conclude that most of the other second cancers are due to other factors like lifestyles and genetics.

Lead researcher Amy Berrington de Gonzalez noted the study's usefulness to physicians.

"The findings can be used by physicians to really put the risks into perspective when they are talking treatment options with their patients," she said.

Gonzalez, who is an investigator for the NCI's radiation epidemiology branch, added that generally, the risks of radiotherapy are smaller than the benefits.

The study will be featured online March 30 in The Lancet Oncology.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio