Delaying Breast Cancer Treatment

December 17th, 2008 | Sources: Cancer, NY Times

Subjects: ,

Nearly 20% of breast cancer patients either delayed radiation therapy or did not finish a full course of therapy following breast-conserving surgery, and they experienced worse outcomes as a result, according to a study in Cancer.

Scientists at Weil Cornell Medical College studied 7,791 patients who were at least 66 years old and had been diagnosed with Stage 1 breast cancer between 1991 and 1999.

They found that 16% experienced a delay in the onset of radiation therapy of at least 8 weeks following surgery, and 3% did not complete a full course of therapy, defined as less than 3 weeks instead of the usual course of 5-7 weeks.

 African-Americans were 50% more likely to delay treatment, and women living in high poverty areas were less likely to complete their treatments.

Women who delayed radiation therapy for at least 8 weeks were 40% more likely to experience a recurrence of breast cancer. Those who waited more than 12 weeks were 4 times more likely to experience a recurrence.

Patients who did not complete their radiation therapy had a 32% higher mortality.

“One of the big problems is that care has to be coordinated to avoid these kinds of delays and lack of completion, especially for patients from a lower socioeconomic status,” study leader Heather Taffet Gold told the New York Times.

That’s easier said than done.



  1. Natalie Jones | 18/12/08

    Radiation therapy is used to damage as many cancer cells as possible so that the further development can be either delayed or slowed. Consult Dr. Boselli at Radiation Oncologist Bronxto know more about the benefits.

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