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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 16

of 'Radiation therapy techniques for newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer'

Moving to a high-tech approach to the irradiation of early breast cancer: is it possible to balance efficacy, morbidity and resource use?
Probst H, Griffiths S
Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2006;18(3):268.
There is substantial evidence documenting the potential morbidity associated with radiotherapy in early breast cancer. An appraisal of current standard radiation practice is therefore necessary, given that women are surviving longer, have an improved quality of life, and are overcoming subsequent side-effects caused by postoperative irradiation. New technology allows the application of more complex approaches. This discussion paper considers some of the benefits of the widespread use of new complex approaches, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in the light of staffing and equipment shortfalls, and possible consequences on waiting times for treatment. The discussion is considered under the following themes: (1) which women with breast cancer benefit from complex treatment approaches? (2) What is the role of treatment accuracy in limiting morbidity? And (3) what is the potential effect of complex breast irradiation approaches on service delivery? In the UK, and globally, many departments are struggling to meet waiting-time guidelines. The use of more complex approaches for breast irradiation may increase this difficulty. However, a number of simple technical changes can be used to enhance efficacy and reduce levels of normal tissue morbidity. A sub-set of women who are at greatest risk from normal tissue morbidity or reduced cosmesis should be accurately defined in order to allow departments to plan their treatment strategies with optimal use of resources.
Faculty of Health and Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. h.probst@shu.ac.uk