British scientists have launched a proton beam therapy trial to evaluate whether precision therapy can help breast cancer patients.
The researchers want to examine whether certain patients would benefit from the treatment over conventional radiotherapy.
A small number of breast cancer patients are at greater risk for long-term heart problems after receiving conventional radiotherapy.
It is hoped that proton beam therapy, which can more precisely target radiotherapy beams at these patients, will provide adequate radiotherapy to the breast tissue while minimizing “off-target” radiation to the heart.
Approximately 30,000 breast cancer patients are offered post-operative radiotherapy each year in the UK.
Standard radiotherapy uses high-energy x-rays to destroy cancer cells and reduce the chance of disease recurrence.
Treatment is effective for the vast majority of patients, but for less than 1% of people treated, conventional radiotherapy can lead to heart problems later in life.
This is usually because the breast tissue and lymph nodes that require radiotherapy treatment are close to the heart or the patient already has an increased risk of underlying heart problems.
Ultimately, the scientists want to assess whether these patients would benefit from proton beam therapy, which uses charged particles instead of x-rays to more precisely target tumors.
It is hoped that using this therapy will continue to target cancerous cells while minimizing the amount of radiation delivered to the heart during conventional therapy.
Around 200 patients will participate in the study, led by researchers at the University of Cambridge, Institute for Cancer Research, London and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.
Those offered proton beam therapy will receive treatment at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester or University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and those traveling far from home will be offered accommodation.
The trial will measure the dose of radiation delivered to the heart as an early indicator of possible heart problems, eliminating the need for years of follow-up.
“Although only a very small group of people are affected by a higher risk of heart problems later in life, this can still be a serious issue,” said Professor Charlotte Coles, lead investigator at the University of Cambridge.
“Most patients treated with radiotherapy have decades of wellness ahead of them, and we must do everything we can to avoid potential heart problems in the future associated with treatment.
“Standard breast radiotherapy is really effective for most people with very few side effects, but there is a small group of patients for whom proton beam therapy may be a better option.”
Professor Judith Bliss, from the Cancer Research Institute of London, added: “We are delighted to launch the PARABLE trial to put proton beam therapy to the test and determine whether it has benefits over standard radiotherapy in a group of people who may need more targeted therapy.
“The PARABLE trial will measure the average dose of radiotherapy delivered to the heart to predict long-term heart damage. Using this early predictor will allow us to reveal the potential benefits of using proton beam therapy for long-term heart health years, rather than decades.”
Dr Anna Kirby, consultant clinical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We hope the PARABLE study will help us further personalize radiotherapy treatments and ensure that people have access to the radiotherapy approach that works best for them, wherever they are.” they live.”
Dr Kotryna Temcinaite, senior research communications manager at Breast Cancer Now, added: “If PARABLE research shows that proton beam therapy works better for these people than standard radiotherapy, it could pave the way for this therapy to be made available to them through the NHS. Who needs it?
– The PARABLE research was funded by the National Health and Care Research Institute and the Medical Research Council.