New Recommendations for Integrating Radiation Therapy and Drug Treatment in Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Italy, with over 55 thousand new cases diagnosed every year. Along with surgery, radiotherapy has been a key part of treatment to reduce the risk of local recurrences and distant metastases. In many cases, radiotherapy is combined with drugs, both old and new.
However, the use of innovative drugs in combination with radiation therapy has been unclear, leading to the need for new international recommendations to answer questions about whether, how, when, and how much radiation should be integrated into the treatment process.
The new recommendations, sponsored by the European Society of Oncological Radiotherapy (Estro), have been published in the scientific journal The Lancet Oncology. This document provides guidance on the safety and effectiveness of the association of new drugs with radiotherapy in the treatment of breast cancer, both in the initial and advanced stages.
According to Icro Meattini, Associate Professor of Radiotherapy Oncology at the University of Florence, the combined use of radiotherapy and chemotherapy is a standard for many types of breast cancer. However, the use of many innovative drugs, such as immunotherapeutics or conjugated antibodies, together with radiation, has not been well understood until now.
The new recommendations, the result of the work of major international experts coordinated by Italian specialists, aim to fill various gaps and offer practical clinical guidance to oncologists. The document also provides tables to assist in the implementation of the recommendations in clinical practice.
Lorenzo Livi, director of the Radiotherapy Oncology Unit at the Careggi University Hospital, highlights the progress that oncology radiotherapy has made in the last decade, becoming more precise, effective, and with fewer side effects. He emphasizes that radiation therapy can now be personalized to the individual patient, thanks to evolving techniques and machinery.
Overall, the new recommendations provide valuable insights into how to exploit the combined effectiveness of radiotherapy and drugs in the treatment of breast cancer, offering guidance for oncologists and improving the care of people affected by cancer.
The statistics presented at the last congress of the Italian Association of Radiotherapy and Clinical Oncology (Airo) indicate that radiotherapy treatment is prescribed to over 70% of cancer patients, either alone or in combination with other treatments. With these new recommendations, the hope is that the integration of radiation therapy and drug treatment in breast cancer will become clearer and more effective in the coming years.
Date Published: February 9, 2024