THOUSANDS of woman could soon be cured of breast cancer in just ONE WEEK with a groundbreaking test to spot the disease.
The new test – being trialled by cancer experts in the UK – will indicate to doctors whether breast cancer is low-risk enough that having the tumour removed will be enough.
It means treatment could, in certain cases, be over in a week or less.
Professor Charlotte Coles – who is leading the trials – said: “There’s a misconception with breast cancer that you’ve got to throw everything at it, treatment-wise – the more the better.
“But that’s not necessarily the case. Partial breast radiotherapy is an easy technique and can be done with existing machines. Most UK hospitals should be able to do it.”
Professor Judith Bliss, of the Institute of Cancer Research, added: “We know radiotherapy works.
“But for some women, the absolute risk of their cancer coming back is so low that having the treatment does not actually give any meaningful benefit.”
The study, which will follow patients for ten years, is ongoing.
Almost 10,000 Britons are diagnosed with breast cancer every year and last year alone over two million middle-aged
British women went for a routine mammogram.
The X-ray check spots breast tumours at an early stage when they’re too small to see.
MINIMAL RADIOTHERAPY OR NONE AT ALL
Medical experts are now focused on treating the cancer without destroying women’s lives with stressful and aggressive treatment.
Last week, experts unveiled new discoveries at the world’s biggest cancer conference in Texas which could achieve just that.
Thousands of other patients could also be spared weeks of radiotherapy treatment thanks to a new method which means treatment can be given in just ten days.
The technique involves targeting just part of the breast with tumour-blasting X-rays.
Typical radio therapy targets the whole breast and can often result in nasty side effects including lumps and scarring.
Oncologist Dr Simona Shaitelman: “Small breast cancers tend to recur in the same area
“For this reason, it makes sense just to treat that part, rather than the entire breast.”
This would reduce the risk of problems such as skin burns and scarring and the chance of damage to surrounding organs.
For the trial, researchers in Italy recruited 520 women over the age of 40 with breast cancer.
They all had small to medium-size tumours that had not yet spread beyond the breast.
Half were offered the new method of accelerated partial breast radiotherapy carried out five times over ten days.
The others received traditional whole breast therapy involving 30 daily hospital visits over six weeks.
However, the study found both treatments were equally as effective with survival rates the same despite the stark difference regularity.
BLOOD DNA TEST
Dr Shaitelman said: “For most people working full-time, this part of treatment is hard.
“A radiotherapy session itself only lasts five minutes, but from the time a patient checks in to when they leave, it’s an hour – not including time spent travelling. Making the whole process easier is a huge win.”
Last year, a major trial led by The Institute of Cancer Research and University of Cambridge also found that partial radiotherapy after surgery could significantly reduce side effects.
A pioneering new genetic test that could help some women avoid chemotherapy entirely.
Professor Nicholas Turner said versions of the test might be in use by next year, if approved by the NHS.
Tumours have their own genetic code and hundreds of genetic sub-types of breast cancer have now been identified.
A targeted drug may work well on one sub-type, but not on others so the challenge is matching the right drug with the right patient – and this test would do just that.
A new hi-tech gadget has also been developed by experts in Texas which can be used during surgery to ensure every trace of any tumour has been removed.
If any tumour cells are left behind it could cause the disease to return.
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The hand-held pen gives surgeons the all clear – letting them know they do not need to cut away any more tissue.
Kyana Garza, one of the researchers of the MasSpec Pen said: “With breast cancer, patients want a cosmetically pleasing outcome.
“It’s a balancing act, and the MasSpec takes away some of the guesswork surgeons have to do in order to work out where the safe margins lie.”