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Radiation therapy after lumpectomy

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Are breast cancer patients being treated longer than necessary? Why undergo 5 to 7 weeks of radiation when 3 weeks suffice?

According a new research (citation below), physicians are slow to change their practice despite women’s preference for a shorter course of treatment for many reasons: cost effectiveness, convenience, childcare, and the process itself.  Women in rural areas opt for mastectomies because they do not have manageable access to radiation.

When interviewed by USA Today, Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, says she’s frustrated that doctors aren’t offering women a more convenient way to treat their breast cancers. Studies show that it can take many years for findings from medical research to be adopted by doctors. “How much evidence does the medical community need before it changes practice?” says Visco, who notes that doctors may make more money from longer treatment courses. “As patient advocates, we don’t want to believe this is financially motivated but find it difficult to understand what else could be the barrier.”

Also in the same USA Today interview: Sheryl Green, an assistant professor of radiation oncology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, says women should ask their doctor about their options.

The research article: Uptake and Costs of Hypofractionated vs Conventional Whole Breast Irradiation After Breast Conserving Surgery in the United States, 2008–2013

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