This post is written by ASK Cancer Commons Scientist and Product Team Member Amanda Nottke, PhD. Dr. Nottke regularly provides guidance to patients through our ASK Cancer Commons service.
After a diagnosis of early stage, hormone-positive breast cancer, you may find yourself facing several daunting decisions, such as choosing between the extensive surgery of mastectomy versus a more minor lumpectomy procedure paired with radiation (with all its challenging side effects). And once surgery is complete, what next? Hormone therapy is clearly indicated for many women, but which drug, and how long to take it? And what about chemo—how to know if the tough side effects are worth the possible reduction in risk of recurrence?
Fortunately, there are a wealth of quality datasets available to inform these decisions. Below are some of the questions we get most frequently from patients using our ASK Cancer Commons service, answered according to the latest thinking from scientific literature and our expert physician network. If you are facing your own cancer treatment decisions and would like free one-one-one expert support, please submit your case here.
1. If my doctor has said either mastectomy or lumpectomy plus radiation are appropriate for me, how do I choose?
Many studies have looked at this, and overall the outcomes for mastectomy versus lumpectomy plus radiation are extremely similar (both are effective treatments, so you can instead weigh the side effects of radiation versus the more intensive surgery of the mastectomy). This webpage provides a helpful summary of the pros and cons of mastectomy compared to lumpectomy.Continue reading…
American Society for Radiation Oncology | Sep 24, 2017
“Long-term results of a phase III clinical trial indicate that survival rates for patients receiving chemoradiation for unresectable, locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) may be more than twice as high as previous estimates. At five years following treatment with a standard dose of 60 Gray (Gy) radiation delivered in 30 fractions, the overall survival rate was 32 percent, setting a new benchmark of survival for patients with inoperable stage III NSCLC. The trial, RTOG 0617, also confirms that a standard dose of radiation therapy is preferable to a higher dose and that cetuximab offers no additional survival benefit for these patients. Findings will be presented today at the 59th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in San Diego.”
UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center | May 25, 2017
“A new study by UCLA scientists has found that the breakthrough immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab can be more effective in improving survival in people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) if they have previously received radiation therapy, compared to those without a history of radiation treatment. The findings are important as the strategies of combining radiation therapy with anti-PD-1 antibodies such as pembrolizumb are currently being explored, and have the potential to increase the overall benefit of immunotherapy for people with NSCLC, the most common form of lung cancer.”
“New research shows that taking molecular variables into account will improve the prognostic classification of the lethal brain cancer called glioblastoma (GBM).
“The study was led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).
“Published in the journal JAMA Oncology, the study found that adding significant molecular biomarkers to the existing GBM classification system improves the prognostic classification of GBM patients who have been treated with radiation and the drug temozolomide.”
“In the first study evaluating patient-reported cosmetic outcomes in a population-based cohort of older women with breast cancer, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center researchers found that less radiation was associated with improved cosmetic satisfaction long-term. However, reduced radiation was also associated with a slightly increased risk of disease recurrence.
“The findings, presented at the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in a poster session by Cameron W. Swanick, M.D., should serve as an important discussion point between older patients and their physicians when making treatment decisions.”
“A radiation boost to the local tumor bed following treatment with breast-conserving therapy (ie, local excision followed by whole-breast radiation therapy) improves local control for patients with ductal carcinoma in situ, according to a study of pooled data from 10 academic centers, presented at the 58th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO). The magnitude of improvement is similar to that seen for a radiation boost in invasive breast cancer.”
“A radiation boost to the tumor bed led to a small but statistically significant reduction in breast cancer recurrence after breast-conserving therapy for ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a randomized study showed.
“Women who received the radiation boost had a 15-year freedom from ipsilateral recurrence of 91.6% compared with 88.0% for patients who had lumpectomy and adjuvant irradiation but not boost to the tumor bed. The additional protection afforded by the radiation boost encompassed both DCIS and invasive recurrence.”
“For men with intermediate risk prostate cancer, radiation treatment with brachytherapy alone can result in similar cancer control with fewer long-term side effects, when compared to more aggressive treatment that combines brachytherapy with external beam therapy (EBT), according to research presented today at the 58th Annual Meeting the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).”
“Brain metastases are one of the most common complications of advanced melanoma, requiring multidisciplinary management. Patients who are diagnosed with these metastases have an expected median survival of only 4 to 5 months. Moffitt Cancer Center researchers hope to improve these survival rates following a new study in Annals of Oncology that shows novel immune and targeted therapies with radiation therapy improves the outcomes of patients with melanoma brain metastases over conventional chemotherapy.”