Should Radiotherapy Immediately Follow After Breast Cancer Surgery
Breast cancer kills more women in the United States than any cancer. The origin of this disease is not known yet. When Breast cancer is detected in its initial stage, the technique of surgery is used to remove the tumour. This prevents the disease from progressing into the stage of metastasis. Though the chunk of cancerous cells (technically called the tumour) is removed by surgery, auxiliary treatment techniques of cancer like radiotherapy ensure that the rest of the leftover cancer cells too die. Generally four to six weeks of gap is observed by the doctors before the patient undergoes Radiotherapy. But cancer researchers from the United States, Canada and Japan report that this delay can prove costly as it can lead to the recurrence of the cancer. The findings of the result are published in the British Medical Journal. This article tries to gain further insight on this topic.
Knowledge Gained From the Research:
- The researchers gathered information from 18,050 US women diagnosed with breast cancer from 1991-2002 by studying national cancer records.
- All these women were above the age of 65 years and had surgery followed by radiotherapy (the risk of breast cancer increases with age).
- The study revealed that delaying radiotherapy after surgery by six weeks or more leads to a significant rise in the recurrence cases.
- 30 percent women started radiotherapy after this time and 4 percent of them were later diagnosed with breast cancer again.
- Further study confirmed the fact that the risk of recurrence can be reduced by undergoing radiotherapy soon after surgery.
- According to the researchers, there is very little knowledge about the mechanism by which cancer cells regroup themselves bringing back the disease.
- As a result, a clear idea about a time frame of recurrence of the disease is not yet available.
Health care providers, especially from the southern states of US have to come out with some mechanism which can reduce the waiting time of radiotherapy after surgery. It is however an uphill task and the cost to implement such a mechanism in place will also be high. Other priorities and opportunities in cancer care are to be well evaluated before the modest effects of this study are implemented on the ground.