From: Reuters
Published May 26, 2008 10:54 AM

Novel breast radiation technique curbs skin problems

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In women with breast cancer, a radiation technique called intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) reduces the incidence of radiation-induced dermatitis, compared to conventional radiation, research shows.

About one third of breast cancer patients develop significant skin reactions after radiation therapy, often due to uneven distribution of radiation to the breast. Breast IMRT is a novel technique that delivers a more even dose of radiation throughout the breast relative to conventional radiation therapy. IMRT, unlike conventional radiation, tailors the dose of radiation to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor.

In a study of 170 women who had breast IMRT and 161 who had standard radiation therapy as part of a randomized trial, researchers observed that far fewer women in the breast IMRT arm than the standard radiation arm experienced scaling or peeling at the site of radiation.

Breast IMRT also led to a "dramatic improvement" in the distribution of radiation to the breast compared with standard radiotherapy, Dr. Jean-Philippe Pignol from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada and colleagues report.

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This improvement translated into a significant 17 percent absolute reduction in the frequency of scaling and peeling skin.

In a report of the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Pignol and colleagues conclude that as breast IMRT becomes more widely available, it "should be offered" to women instead of conventional radiation therapy.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, May 1, 2008.

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