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Shorter treatment time for some breast cancer patients under new guideline

By Reporter - 29th Jun 2023


A new national clinical guideline for the treatment of breast cancer has been published by the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), which will mean shorter treatment time for some patients.

Under the new guideline, for some patients, the total radiotherapy dose can be provided over a revised, shorter timeframe, i.e. within one week compared with three to five weeks. 

For others, the new techniques recommended will reduce the burden of attending hospital for radiotherapy treatment.

The guideline was developed in consultation with oncology patients and doctors and aims to improve the standard and consistency of clinical practice in line with the best and most recent scientific evidence available.

Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide, National Director, NCCP, said: “This is welcome news for patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The guideline sets out recommendations that will mean shorter treatment time for some patients, and therefore fewer in-hospital appointments. This will create some additional capacity in the service, meaning more patients can be treated in the same timeframe than previously.”

The guideline was developed by a multi-disciplinary group chaired by Dr Eve O’Toole, Head of Evidence and Quality Hub, NCCP.

Dr O’Toole said: “We worked with radiation oncology clinicians and engaged with patient representatives to develop this evidence-based guideline. We integrated their clinical experience and patient values with the best current evidence to formulate recommendations for clinical practice. The patient focus group provided views of those who are most impacted by its recommendations, and their valuable feedback shaped the overall guideline.”

Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland, and the most common cancer among females (National Cancer Registry Ireland (NCRI), 2022). According to the NCRI, there was an average of 3,392 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in Ireland annually between 2018–2020.

A breast cancer survivor and participant in the patient focus group, Ms Kathleen O’Connor, said: “It is fantastic to see these new recommendations. I was delighted to be involved in the patient focus group as I feel that incorporating the patient’s perspective when developing guidance is really valuable.”

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