Shorter Course of Radiation for Patients with Breast Cancer

Dr Mark QuinnRecently the American Society of Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) came out with new guidelines for the treatment of early stage Breast cancer patients.

For women with invasive breast cancer receiving Whole Breast radiation, the preferred dose-fractionation scheme is hypofractionated Whole Breast Radiation to a dose of 4000 cgy in 15 fractions or 4250 cGy in 16 fractions.

Breast Cancer is the most common malignancy treated with radiation therapy in the United States and whole breast irradiation (WBI) is the most common radiotherapeutic approach for breast cancer. Historically the Standard of care for WBI has been conventional fractionation, defined as daily doses of 180-200 cGy to approximately 4500-5000 cGy with and without a tumor bed boost.

Recognizing the limitations of Conventional fractionation, randomized trials in the 1990s and 2000s investigated if moderate hypofractionation defined as daily doses of 265 cGy to 330 cGy could yield oncological and functional/cosmetic outcomes similar to conventional fractionated WBI.

This means that for certain women with early-stage breast cancer who need radiation after lumpectomy they may qualify for the 4 weeks of daily radiation as opposed to the traditional 6-7 weeks of daily radiation.

Dr. Mark Quinn
Board Certified Radiation Oncologist