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Radiotherapy technique 'cuts patient travel times'

11 May 2016 07:23

A radiotherapy treatment may cut patient travel times, it is suggested

A radiotherapy treatment may cut patient travel times, it is suggested

Breast cancer sufferers could save themselves unnecessary long journeys if Britain adopted a radiotherapy procedure already used by several other countries, a report claims.

Patients waste "unnecessary" journeys averaging out at 100 miles and nearly three-and-a-half hours under the current normal treatment, experts believe.

They would prefer to see patients receive just one targeted radiotherapy beam (TARGIT) while still anaesthetised and the cancerous tissues are being cut out.

This could save breast cancer patients a maximum of six weeks' worth of daily hospital trips for radiotherapy, they claim.

The study compared the environmental impact and journey times between the two treatment types among 485 breast cancer sufferers.

Experts say the TARGIT intra-operative beam treatment is not available for NHS patients, but the evidence is now being examined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.


The TARGIT beam procedure extends the length of the surgery for lumpectomy patients from between 20 and 40 minutes.

But it usually means they do not need to attend hospitals for daily radiotherapy treatment after that.

Specialists say that this procedure would also lower carbon emissions.

They claim that TARGIT matches anything that external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) can achieve in well-suited patients who have recently developed breast cancer.

Travel tonic

Daily travel to receive radiotherapy treatments for breast cancer patients can be tiring. But travel on holidays abroad can be far more uplifting, especially if patients have taken out medical-related travel insurance.

This gives peace of mind should health problems occur while out of the country.

Key stats

Researchers now say that:

• Britain sees 50,000 new breast cancer cases detected each year

• TARGIT could help breast cancer patients save travel time amounting to 170,000 hours and journeys totalling five million miles

• TARGIT could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide by as much as 1,200 tonnes. This would save a 100-hectare forest each year

The authors of the study say that patient travel is something that policymakers frequently overlook.

The journal BMJ Open has published the study.