Study: Single-Shot Radiotherapy Effective for Breast Cancer, Avoids Potential Organ Damage

Aislinn Antrim, Associate Editor

Study suggests that 8 out of 10 patients with breast cancer who receive treatment with TARGIT-IORT will not need a long course of post-operative external beam radiotherapy.

New research has found that a single-shot approach to radiotherapy is just as effective as traditional radiotherapy in breast cancer and avoids potential damage to nearby organs, according to investigators at University College London.

The new study results strengthen and build on previously published outcomes, according to the authors. They also found that 8 out of 10 patients who receive the treatment, called TARGIT-IORT, will not need a long course of post-operative external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) .

TARGIT-IORT is delivered immediately following lumpectomy while the patient is under the same anesthetic. It is administered via a small, ball-shaped device placed inside the breast where the cancer had been. The treatment lasts for around 20 to 30 minutes and replaces the need for extra hospital visits in 8 out of 10 cases, according to the study authors.

“With TARGIT-IORT, women can have their surgery and radiation treatment for breast cancer at the same time,” said lead author Jayant Vaidya, MBBS, MS, DNB, PhD, in the press release. “This reduces the amount of time spent in hospital and enabled women to recover more quickly, meaning they can get back to their lives more quickly.”

Delivering radiation immediately to the site where the tumor was can reduce the adverse effects (AEs) of surgical trauma, make the site less conducive to cancer growth, and could have an abscopal effect, according to the study. An abscopal effect occurs when a treatment, such as radiotherapy, has a positive effect on tissue away from the operation site, which the researchers said is increasingly recognized as a beneficial immunological action.

“These new results make it clear that the TARGIT-IORT is effective in all tumor subgroups of invasive duct cancer, the most common type of breast cancer,” Vaidya said in the press release. “Our new online tool can help clinicians make a decision about additional radiotherapy (recommended in a small proportion of cases) for each individual patient.”

The study results demonstrated that patients who received the treatment were less likely to experience fatal cardiovascular disease, lung problems, or other cancers, according to the authors. Delivering TARGIT-IORT during the lumpectomy procedure also seemed to lower the likelihood of death if patients do go on to develop cardiovascular disease and can avoid scattered radiation from EBRT that can damage nearby vital organs. These findings remained even when EBRT was also given post-operatively.

“The finding that fewer deaths are from the avoidance of scattered radiation and the possible abscopal effect of TARGIT-IORT is important and should fuel further research, opening doors to new treatments,” Vaidya said in the press release.

Earlier studies have shown that the single-shot treatment has fewer radiation-related AEs compared with conventional whole breast radiotherapy, including less pain, a superior cosmetic outcome with fewer changes to the breast as a whole, and a better quality of life.

“These results are the highest level of evidence proving not only the effectiveness of TARGIT-IORT but confirming that it avoids deaths from other causes,” said Michael Baum, MB, ChB, FRCS, ChM, in the press release. “The new data is biologically very interesting, and the new tools will make its application in routine clinical practice much easier. I am pleased that it will benefit thousands of breast cancer patients around the world.”

REFERENCE

Pioneering single-dose radiotherapy for breast cancer treatment [news release]. University College London; May 28, 2021. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2021/may/pioneering-single-dose-radiotherapy-breast-cancer-treatment. Accessed June 1, 2021.