Radiotherapy well-tolerated in low-risk elderly patients

13th May 2011

The first ever study to investigate the effect of radiotherapy on older women has found that the treatment does not significantly reduce quality of life.

The PRIME (post-operative radiotherapy in minimum-risk elderly) trial looked at 255 patients over the age of 65 who were receiving radiotherapy following surgery to remove cancer from the breast.

It was completed by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in a bid to establish a database focusing on the age group which is most commonly affected by breast cancer, which can act as a guideline for treatment.

Patients in the study, who averaged around 72 years of age, were split into two groups, with some receiving radiotherapy and some receiving none. It was found that those receiving the treatment suffered some breast-related problems and fatigue but fewer endocrine side effects.

A larger trial is due to begin later this year, which will address some of the issues raised in this five-year study.

Cancer Research reports that the risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. One in eight women will develop the cancer at some point in their lives.

Posted by Philip Briggs

Williams, L J et al. "A randomised controlled trial of postoperative radiotherapy following breast-conserving surgery in a minimum-risk population: Quality of life at 5 years in the PRIME trial." Geriatric Oncology, May 2011.

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