Study led by VCU Massey doctor finds mastectomy alternative for recurrent breast cancer

RICHMOND, Va. – There is now an effective alternative for patients who experience having their breast cancer come back after they've had a lumpectomy and whole breast radiation.

"We know if we treat the whole breast again that's going to cause too much toxicity and difficulties with the breast,” said Dr. Douglas Arthur, chair of radiation oncology at VCU Massey Cancer Center.

Dr. Arthur was the principal investigator for the national clinical trial. The standard treatment for these women with a recurrence is a mastectomy.

However, for women who want to preserve the breast, this new study looked at having a second lumpectomy and followed by partial breast re-irradiation---using an external beam that targets radiation directly where the tumor is located.

The results of the study were published in the November 2019 issue of JAMA Oncology.

"The goal of that particular treatment was to make the radiation as easy on the soft tissues as possible,” said Dr. Arthur.

The study involved 58 patients from around the nation for more than five years. Those patients would get treatment twice a day, Monday thru Friday for three weeks.

Dr. Arthur says the next step is looking at improving treatment techniques making it more convenient for the patient.

For more information about the study’s findings, click here.

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