Breast Cancer and Radiation Treatments

This month, Interactive Health Clinic’s Doctor Brian Orr, ND explains how half of breast cancer patients might be getting more radiation than they need and why.

 

Half of Breast Cancer Patients Get More Radiation Than They Need

Back in 2010, medical research published in The New England Journal of Medicine, showed that the radiation course used to treat breast cancer could be cut in half, from six weeks to three weeks, and it would work just as well, have fewer side effects and be less expensive.

Radiation of 3 Weeks instead of 6 Weeks

After some follow-up studies showing similar results, the American Society for Radiation Oncology specifically told doctors in 2013 to start adopting the three week treatment and consider the six week treatment only in special cases.

Since then, we’ve found out that the shorter course of therapy is not only an equivalent treatment, but it may have certain benefits, such as fewer and milder side-effects, and cost savings. And yet, an analysis conducted by eviCore Healthcare this past October found that only 48 percent of eligible breast cancer patients today get the shorter course of therapy, in spite of the additional costs and inconvenience of the longer course.

These data reflect how hard it is to get doctors to change how they practice, and why it’s so important for patients to ask about what other options are available to them.

Dr Brian Orr photoWhen it comes to radiation treatments and breast cancer, more is not always better. 

Patients used to feel like more is better, and many doctors say that patients often demand the most aggressive treatments. Others say they feel pressured to pursue aggressive treatments out of fear of being sued for doing too little.

Breast Cancer Patients: Remember, You Have a Voice

In either case, what’s revealing is that doctors are trying to do what they think their patients’ want for themselves. Patients should remember that they can say “I’d like to do it this way because it’s my body”, and that they will have the support of their doctors.

Get a second opinion about treatment options or find out how naturopathic medicine can help support your cancer care – call Interactive Health Clinic at (425) 361-7945.

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