Breast cancer hope

Dou­ble ra­di­a­tion gives vic­tims bet­ter chance

Herald Sun - - NEWS - BRIGID O’CON­NELL HEALTH RE­PORTER brigid.ocon­nell@news.com.au

WOMEN who re­ceive ra­di­a­tion to both lymph nodes and chest af­ter breast cancer surgery can sig­nif­i­cantly boost their chance of re­main­ing cancer-free a decade on.

The land­mark in­ter­na­tional clin­i­cal trial could change the course of treat­ment for 5000 Aus­tralian women each year, the third of new breast cancer pa­tients whose cancer has spread to the lymph nodes.

In­ter­na­tional co-chair of the trial, Peter MacCal­lum Cancer Cen­tre As­so­ci­ate Pro­fes­sor Boon Chua, said the re­sults would al­low pa­tients and clin­i­cians to make more in­formed de­ci­sions about treat­ment for early stage breast cancer.

The study fol­lowed more than 1800 women from Aus­tralia, Canada and the US for 10 years, com­par­ing the out- come af­ter breast con­serv­ing surgery of those who re­ceived ra­di­a­tion to both the chest wall and lymph nodes with those who just re­ceived breast ra­di­a­tion. Af­ter a decade, 82 per cent of women who re­ceived the dou­ble ra­di­a­tion were free of cancer, com­pared with 77 per cent of those who had just chest ra­di­a­tion.

It also found a small but not sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant in- crease in over­all sur­vival for the first group. “If we con­tinue to mon­i­tor these women over the long term, be­yond the 10 years, it’s likely that be­cause there are more women with­out the breast cancer re­cur­ring, that this will trans­late to in­creases in over­all sur­vival,” As­so­ci­ate Prof Chua said.

“It’s a con­ver­sa­tion more women will need to have with their doc­tors, and it’s a promis- ing step for­ward for them re­main­ing cancer-free.”

Trial par­tic­i­pant Pa­tri­cia Can­teri had lymph node ra­di­a­tion and re­cently cel­e­brated 10 years of be­ing cancer free.

Dur­ing this pe­riod, the nurse has seen her son mar­ried and wel­comed the ar­rival of three grand­chil­dren.

“You do what­ever is in your power to stay alive,” Ms Can­teri said. “I was given that op- por­tu­nity. My sur­geon said at the time, ‘what have you got to lose?’,” she said.

Pa­tri­cia Can­teri with grand­kids James and Emma.

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