Breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy may not have to go to hospital as frequently - according to a new clinical trial led by a Staffordshire professor.
Findings were presented at the prestigious American Society for Radiation Oncology Annual Meeting recently by Professor Murray Brunt, professor of clinical oncology at University Hospitals of North Midlands and Keele University.
The exploratory study suggests it may be possible for early-stage breast cancer patients to visit the radiotherapy department only five times for treatment instead of 25, meaning less time, worry and anxiety.
Professor Brunt said: "Whilst we need to be patient and wait to see the results of a more detailed study, initial findings are exciting because they suggest that patients may only have to be treated once a week over five weeks rather than daily over the same time period.
"The study is not intended to be practice-changing for the majority of patients, but confirms the principle that a much shorter course of treatment can be identified which may replace the current standard.
"I am leading a large UK trial which will report over the next couple of years and we hope that this will provide further clarification.
"The results of this study may then be used to help and advise frail patients who are unable to attend for daily breast radiotherapy."
UHNM is at the forefront of this type of research, and already offers the reduced treatment plan for frail patients.
Carolyn O'Donovan, Radiotherapy Service Manager, said: "UHNM is one of the leading hospitals for innovative research in breast radiotherapy and has helped develop national guidance on best practice.
"It is really noteworthy that Professor Brunt, who is a leading expert in this field, was invited to speak at the ASTRO conference, one of the largest Oncology meetings in the world.
"Professor Brunt is also currently the chief investigator for another trial for breast patients, looking at whether treatment can be given in one week over five days as opposed to coming for between 15 and 25 treatments.
"The value to patients of reduced treatment sessions is enormous. It means less time, hassle, worry and anxiety about coming for treatment, so the benefits can be not only physical but mental and emotional too."