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New Guidelines Mean More Accelerated Radiation Treatments

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According to ASTRO, The American Society for Radiation Oncology and the world’s largest radiation oncology society, accelerated treatment, also known as hypofractionation, is now recommended for significantly more cancer patients. The society issued a new clinical guideline expanding the population of breast cancer patients that are recommended to receive this specialized treatment.

UnityPoint Health – Finley Hospital’s Wendt Regional Cancer Center has consistently upgraded radiation therapy equipment to offer patients in the Tri-State community the most advanced options when it comes to fighting cancer. Hypofractionation is one of those options.

“Traditionally, clinicians have provided radiation therapy in low doses over a period of weeks,” explains Mike Kelly, Manager of the Wendt Center. “However, with new technologies, we are able to prescribe larger doses of radiation therapy in fewer treatments and a shorter period of time.”

Earlier technology was effective at targeting cancer, however, wasn’t as precise as the technology available today. Therefore, low doses of radiation were spread out in many sessions over five to eight-week periods to allow the healthy tissue surrounding a cancer the ability to recover. The TrueBeam Linear Accelerator, which the Wendt Center purchased in 2015, is extremely sophisticated and uses highly advanced, image-guided techniques to decrease radiation exposure to any healthy tissue surrounding the cancer.

“Patients who have fit ASTRO’s previous guidelines have benefited from the accelerated treatments,” Kelly says. “Less appointments at the Wendt Center mean patients can spend more time doing what matters most to them. Now more patients fall within ASTRO’s new guideline and I expect to see more patients benefiting from this advanced technology we offer at the Wendt Center.”

The new guideline recommends hypofractionation for breast cancer patients “regardless of age, tumor stage and whether they (patient) have received chemotherapy”. ASTRO also notes the guideline should be used a tool to individualized and shared decision-making between physicians and patients.