McMaster University researcher Timothy Whelan and his team have found that older women with early-stage breast cancer may not need radiotherapy after surgery.
Whelan said women aged 55 or older with stage one breast cancer that displays a specific biomarker pattern that identifies the luminal A subtype can be effectively treated with only surgery and endocrine therapy. They presented the research on June 7 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago.
Her research team, working with the Ontario Clinical Oncology Group at Hamilton Health Sciences, tracked 501 patients with luminal A breast cancer for five years after surgery and found that the recurrence of cancer in the breast was just 2.3 percent without radiotherapy. This was roughly comparable with a 1.9 percent risk of this patient’s sample developing a new breast cancer in their other untreated breast.
Whelan said that early-stage breast cancer patients at this time usually undergo a three- to five-week radiotherapy course to reduce their risk of cancer recurrence.
These findings are exciting because we have identified a certain group of patients who can survive radiotherapy and its associated side effects and could potentially lead to better medical practice for breast cancer treatment.”
Timothy Whelan, Professor in the Department of Oncology at McMaster, Canada Research Chair in Breast Cancer Research and Radiation Oncologist for Hamilton Health Sciences
“Radiotherapy has significant early side effects, including fatigue and skin irritation, which can last for several weeks after the course is completed, and late side effects such as breast shrinkage and deformity that can affect quality of life And much less serious complications such as heart disease and other cancers,” he said.
“If we can avoid radiotherapy, that would be better. Not all cancers require the same level of often-invasive treatment. Breast cancers that display luminal A biomarkers are a very low-risk group and they are specialized Not overtly aggressive.”
She added that the overall risk of cancer recurrence after breast-conserving surgery has decreased in recent years due to routine mammogram screening, improved surgical techniques, and better systemic treatments.
Whelan said her research has now been tracking patients with luminal A type of breast cancer for 10 years to learn more about treatment efficacy without the use of radiotherapy.