New cancer treatment cuts down on treatment time

- Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center is giving its patients new hope, with a shorter course radiation therapy.

Doctors at the center are treating women with early-stage Breast Cancer in half the time of traditional methods, and a woman is benefiting from this cutting edge technology, and from her option to stay near the hospital, in a trailer.

Jody Edgar from Payson was diagnosed with Stage Two Breast Cancer in September 2016, after a routine mammogram. For more than four weeks, she has been living in her trailer at the parking lot of the Cancer Center, as she undergoes treatment.

"They have a dozen RV spaces in the parking lot and if there are any free, you're able to pull an RV down and stay here with no charge at all, and they have all the hook ups for it," said Edgar.

According to Radiation Oncologist Emily Grade, traditional treatment for early stage Breast Cancer, like those Edgar has, can last up to 6.5 weeks. The patent would have had treatments every weekdays, until that time is up. For patients at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center nowadays, however, the new standard approach, called Hypofractionated Breast Radiation Therapy, cuts that time in half.

"Hypo means less time versus more fractions," said Grade. "It's actually cut down to three weeks to four weeks, and that means we have to give a little more dose each day to get finished sooner versus conventional therapy."

The therapy delivers higher doses of radiation to targeted areas.

"In reality, people thought that giving more dose per day would actually mean higher skin reactions, higher toxicity for the Breast Cancer patients, but there's been at least four randomized trials out there, including the Canadian data, the United Kingdom data where they do everything cheaper and faster that have shown that the skin reactions are not worse and the results are equal, and so, it's a win-win," said Grade, who said the treatment method is more convenient, and is most cases, works the same.

"The results are proven to be the exact same, in terms of local control and survival for the patient, and the results are also showing the breast cosmetic result is even better, and the skin reaction is less usually," said Grade.

The type of treatment Grade described is available for all types of Cancer, including Prostate and Lung Cancers. In some cases, however, it is not used for Advanced-Stage Cancer treatment.

Grade went on to say that shorter course radiation therapy is more cost-effective. Cost-effectiveness is something Edgar is thankful for, because of the option, she will be able to pack up her home away from home much sooner, and get back to her life in Payson. She should be able to go back to work in about a month or so.


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