Advances in breast cancer radiotherapy

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in India, and about 160,000 cases are diagnosed annually. Advances in technology, as well as our understanding of breast cancer biology, coupled with an increasing emphasis on early detection, have resulted in improved outcomes for breast cancer patients.

Here, an attempt was made to review the recent advances made in adjuvant radiotherapy of breast cancer.

  1. Technological advances in dose delivery i.e. better dose homogenization and development of simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) techniques.
  2. Widespread use of altered fractionation, e.g., hypofractionation;
  3. Avoidance of morbidity of radiation therapy, especially cardiac morbidity.
  4. Customization of irradiation volume, e.g., avoidance of whole-breast irradiation and
  5. Avoidance of radiation therapy in certain low risk populations.

Most institutes that have adopted hypofractionated radiotherapy have been able to report good outcomes. This has important implications for India, where radiotherapy resources are limited. hypofractionation also results in significant cost savings for the patient.

Further there is need for developing multi-centric collaborative research studies to identify gaps in knowledge where such research would be most useful.