Too Much Radiation


Anchor lead: Shorter courses of radiation for cancer therapy will work for most, Elizabeth Tracey reports

Radiation therapy for cancer used to be given over weeks, but modifications to the technique have allowed the time course to be compressed for most patients. Now a Johns Hopkins study shows that many doctors aren’t using the shorter course. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center, explains the data.

Nelson: Now that they can aim better, damage to the normal tissues is stunningly less. They can deliver it over a week. with that in mind, this group looked at the Medicare database. What they found was that among 382 radiation oncologists a third of them still used the prolonged course of treatment, had not converted over to using the shorter term course. They were typically older, more likely to practice in the South, or the middle of the country. The rate of adoption of a new technology hasn’t been as rapid as I think many people think.  :34

Nelson says anyone who needs radiation therapy should ask their physician about the shorter course. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.