December 2010
Breast cancer treatment saves weeks of hospital visits by using a single dose of radiotherapy

intra-operative-radiationPatients with breast cancer could see their treatment reduced from 20 to 30 hospital visits over five or six weeks to a single dose of radiotherapy administered during their operation. And it’s all thanks to a ten-year international trial led by University College Hospital London with funding from UCLH Charity.

More than 2,000 women from nine countries took part in the TARGIT trial, with half receiving external beam radiography over a number of weeks and the other half receiving just one dose of intraoperative radiotherapy, delivered by a probe during breast-conserving surgery.

The 28 international centres were coordinated by the Trials Office at University College London, with support from Cancer Research UK.

Results recently published in The Lancet, show that the new method appears to be just as effective as conventional post-operative breast cancer treatment in selected patients.

The trial was designed and led by UCLH oncologist, Professor Jeffrey Tobias, former UCLH consultant surgeon Mike Baum, now Professor Emeritus at University College London, and breast surgeon and UCLH oncologist Mr Jayant Vaidya.

“I think the reason why it works so well is because of the precision of the treatment” says Professor Tobias. “It eradicates the very highest risk area - the part of the breast from which the tumour was removed. It also means there is an otherwise unachievable degree of immediacy because the cancer is taken out and radiation goes in as soon as the surgery is complete, rather than weeks after.”