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30th Jun 2023

Some breast cancer patients could see treatment times cut from five weeks to one with new guidelines

Ellen Fitzpatrick

Some breast cancer patients could have their radiotherapy treatment carried out in a shorter time frame under new guidelines.

These new guidelines will see treatment being reduced from three to five weeks very soon.

Newly approved techniques will reduce the time patients need to attend hospital for.

These new guidelines were published on Thursday by the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).

On average there are 3,392 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in Ireland each year.

The HSE has said that these new guidelines were developed in consultation with oncology patients and doctors and “will improve the standard and consistency of clinical practice in line with the best and most recent scientific evidence available, which in turn benefits the patients”, according to

Professor Risteárd Ó Laoide, national director, HSE NCCP, said it “will create some additional capacity in the service, meaning more patients can be treated in the same timeframe than previously”.

The guidelines are an update from the ones in 2015 and now include 10 new recommendations and updated evidence to support previous recommendations.

The main change to the guidelines is the inclusion of specific recommendation which considers an ultra-hypofractionated radiotherapy regimen for suitable patients.

This means that a patient gets their total radiotherapy dose over a shorter timeframe, typically within one week.

The new schedule significantly reduces the number of hospital visits required of a patient and allows for more patients to be treated in that same timeframe.

“The guideline also considers which patients may benefit from a radiotherapy boost. This is an extra dose of radiation that is targeted at the specific part of the breast from where the tumour was removed (in addition to the radiotherapy given to the whole breast),” the HSE said in a statement.