UK & World News
Single-Shot Radiotherapy For Breast Cancer
A new type of radiotherapy which could be delivered in a single dose during surgery is offering new hope for tens of thousands of women with breast cancer.
Intrabeam radiotherapy has been given provisional go-ahead for NHS use by the National Institute for Health and Care excellence (Nice).
In new draft guidance, Nice said the treatment option should be considered for people with early stage breast cancer.
Professor Carole Longson, director of health technology evaluation at Nice, said: "Unlike regular radiotherapy, with the Intrabeam Radiotherapy System only one dose is required.
"This single dose is given at the same time as surgery, eliminating the need for numerous hospital visits.
"Regular radiotherapy typically requires numerous doses over a three week period - although some people may receive it for longer - and is performed weeks or months after surgery or chemotherapy.
"Whilst current evidence was not extensive, this type of radiotherapy was more convenient for patients and can improve a person's quality of life.
"It's still a new treatment - so far only six centres in the UK have used the Intrabeam Radiotherapy System to treat early breast cancer.
"Because it is still relatively new it is only right to recommend its use in a carefully controlled way.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer said the "revolutionary" treatment would not only cause less hassle for patients but it would also save the NHS time and money.
"This is great news for early breast cancer patients due for breast conserving operations," Sally Greenbrook, senior policy officer at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, said.
"Intrabeam is unique in that it is given during surgery, avoiding the need for weeks of follow up appointments and for many women, this is all the treatment they need.
"As this is a new technology, patients will need to be made aware of the pros and cons before going ahead.
"However, this technique can greatly reduce the disruption, stress and inconvenience of what for some people can be over 15 additional trips to and from hospital as well as saving the NHS money and time.
"Whilst this is just an initial decision from Nice we look forward to their final decision which we very much hope will remain positive."
Every year, around 41,500 women and 300 men in England are diagnosed with breast cancer.
Nice said that around 86% of these patients, or 35,970 people each year, could potentially benefit from the treatment.