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Short radiotherapy course 'just as effective'

High doses of radiotherapy over a short period of time are just as effective for breast cancer as the current five-week programme, researchers have discovered. 

Three weeks of radiotherapy works just as well as the five-week course currently used in many countries, but is less damaging to nearby healthy tissue, as well as being more convenient because of shorter waiting lists and fewer visits. 

Published in The Lancet Oncology, the study found that after ten years the number of women who experienced a relapse of their cancer was much the same. 

These outcomes were much the same irrespective of age, tumour grade, stage, or chemotherapy use.

Study leader Professor John Yarnold from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: "The upshot is that—contrary to conventional thinking—cancer cells are just as sensitive to the size of daily radiotherapy dose as the normal tissues responsible for late onset side effects, meaning that the continued use of traditional lower doses spares the cancer as much as the healthy tissue, offering no benefit to patients.”