New research shows ways to reduce future risks of treatment for breast cancer patients

Jean-Philippe Pignol is a professor of radiation oncology and head of the radiotherapy department at Dalhousie University. (CBC)

(Michael Gorman/ CBC News) — Dr. Jean-Philippe Pignol says it’s a testament to the effectiveness of cancer therapy today that his most recent research is even possible.

The professor of radiation oncology and head of the radiotherapy department at Dalhousie University is a co-author of a recently completed four-year study looking at ways to reduce the long-term risk of secondary cancer for patients receiving radiation treatment for breast cancer.

Pignol believes the paper, which becomes widely available in September, could have major positive outcomes for patients and the way they are treated.

“I think the patient deserves to receive the better treatment and I think that it’s also about empowering patients,” he said.

“If they know what the consequences are of the treatment, they can ask the right questions.”

Traditionally when breast cancer has been detected, the whole breast was treated with radiotherapy. But, as technology has advanced, doctors could instead use partial-treatment techniques for early-stage patients with a good prognosis.

The partial-treatment techniques focus on a specific area of the breast. The treatment has been shown to be equally effective. (…)

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