More Time For You

A new treatment plan can cut radiation treatments in half for certain breast cancer patients

Any breast cancer survivor will tell you that the fight against their disease was one of the toughest in their lives, requiring every ounce of physical, emotional, and mental strength they could muster. Now, physicians in the Lewis Cancer & Research Pavilion (LCRP) can make that fight shorter for certain patients.

A treatment plan known as hypofractionated radiation involves using daily radiation doses that are higher than those in the more conventional method. Larger daily doses lead to fewer visits and the treatment can be completed in three to four weeks. Conventional radiation usually takes about six to seven weeks. Studies have shown that the local recurrence rate, the cure rate, and the side effects in both treatments are the same.

Lorraine Champion, MD, a radiation oncologist who practices at both the LCRP in Savannah and at the LCRP's Radiation Oncology Center - Hilton Head/Bluffton, treated more than 100 patients with hypofractionated radiation in her private practice before relocating to this area. Once she arrived, Dr. Champion found that the patients who met the criteria for the procedure were already searching for an alternative to the standard regimen, mostly in the interest of saving money and, more importantly, time.

"We've utilized the hypofractionated radiation regime for quite a few patients in Savannah's older population," Champion says. "These patients tend to receive hormone-based therapy instead of chemotherapy."

Being 50 or more years old and not receiving chemotherapy are two aspects of the criteria that a patient must meet to be eligible for hypofractionated radiation. In addition, the patient's tumors must be at Stage 1 or 2. Women with larger breasts are not considered good candidates.

"We have to make sure that the radiation dose is homogeneous throughout the breast, and we can't achieve that in a larger breast," Champion says.

"Even if you do not meet the criteria, our objective remains the same," Champion says. "We strive to give you the most effective treatment possible, with the least amount of disruption in your life, as you make your way to survivorship."

Meet a woman who received this treatment in "Back to your life faster" at www.youtube.com/StJosephsCandler.
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