Posts Tagged ‘radiation treatment’

I found more sketches and notes I made just before, during and after I had radiation treatment and have posted them in the section The Parts I Left Out.


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Living Beyond Breast Cancer reported in a story published  January 28, 2009, that radiation for three weeks  for invasive, node-negative breast cancer may be as effective as the standard five weeks.

The study examined the effectiveness of hypofractionated radiation, a technique in which higher doses of radiation are given for a shorter time period.

The article said:

Invasive breast cancer occurs when cancer has traveled outside of the ducts or lobules of the breast into the surrounding tissues. When the cancer does not travel into the lymph nodes near the breast and when the tumor remains small, a doctor may remove only the lump and some of the tissue surrounding the lump, also called lumpectomy, or breast conserving therapy. The standard treatment for invasive breast cancer that is confined to the breast is lumpectomy plus radiation for five to seven weeks. Radiation kills any cancer cells that might remain in the breast area after a tumor is removed. Radiation normally is given five days a week for five to seven weeks; the researchers of this study wanted to find out if radiation given at a higher daily dose over three weeks would be equally effective in preventing locally invasive breast cancer recurrence.

In the study, women who had undergone lumpectomy for invasive breast cancer were randomly assigned to receive three weeks of higher dose radiation or five weeks of standard dose radiation. The women did not have cancer in their lymph nodes. 

After 12 years, both groups had similar rates of recurrence. Women who received three weeks of radiation had a 6.2 percent risk of recurrence compared to a 6.7 percent risk of recurrence in the five-week group.

The researchers determined that shorter radiation is just as effective as standard radiation in controlling recurrence. They suggest that this approach should be more widely considered because it is more convenient and less costly to women in treatment for breast cancer.

The article went on to tell women they could share the results of the study with their doctor and ask if the shorter radiation could be an option for them.

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I just read in the latest issue of AARP magazine about a new treatment advance called image-guided radiation therapy.  A doctor was quoted as saying, “I would guess almost everyone living in the U.S. is now within an hour of a center that has this.”   The system is supposed to give radiologists a more accurate picture of a tumor, which allows them to target it more accurately and reduces the number of treatments needed. 

Not only is our area not within an hour of a treatment center with image-guided radiation therapy, it is at least 2 hours to the nearest radiation treatment center of any kind.   I’m thinking there are lots of rural places that are not within one hour of treatment. 

The first radiation oncologist I saw said treatment was 5 days a week for 6 weeks, but it only took a few minutes, so I would have the rest of the day free.  Yes, I said, unless you counted the 5 hours it would take to drive there and back.

She said,

Oh, yes. There is that.

WWAMI Rural Health Research Center  has several access to care studies, including rural access to radiation oncology centers. 

This study will use cancer registry data from 10 U.S. states to examine which rural cancer patients are receiving recommended radiation therapy and what factors influence receipt of recommended treatment. Identifying gaps in radiation therapy will inform cancer centers, rural program planners, and policy makers in rural cancer service location and cancer support program development. This project is expected to be completed by August 2008.
I would like to hear comments from rural women cancer patients on how far it is to treatment and how you overcame the distance barrier.  Were there organizations that provided transportation or financial assistance with transportation costs? Did you have to stay out of town during treatment? Was there any help with those associated costs?

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