Is your course of radiation treatment longer than it needs to be?

patient and doctor in an exam room

Radiation oncologist Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., consults with a patient

Mounting evidence finds that delivering higher doses of radiation per treatment is as effective in some breast cancer patients as a traditional course where smaller doses are given over a longer time period. The new method, called hypofractionation, involves about 3-4 weeks of daily radiation treatments, instead of the usual 5-week or longer course.

But several newly published studies have found that hypofractionated radiation is not widely used.

Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan, led two of these studies. Looking at a national database of patients, she and her colleagues found that hypofractionation was used in only 13.6% of Medicare patients with breast cancer. In Michigan, Jagsi’s other study found, fewer than one-third of patients who fit the criteria for offering this approach got the shorter course of treatment. Continue reading

Making Good Decisions About Cancer Treatment Options

Choosing your cancer treatment course can be a difficult decision, as you quickly begin to learn a whole new language and a world of options. A recent study found that breast cancer patients were deciding on their surgery without consulting a radiation oncologist. In some cases, women were choosing a more aggressive operation in the hopes of avoiding radiation – but not understanding that radiation might still be required. Learn your options first, starting with choosing the right doctor and the right cancer program for your diagnosis. It’s also important to understand the information your health care team presents. U-M researchers who specialize in decision-making offer 10 tips to help patients understand their risk and how treatment options will affect that risk.

If you have questions about your treatment options, contact Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125 and one of our cancer nurses will help.