Coronavirus accelerated move towards shorter cancer treatments: AD


Treatment programmes for some cancers which were cut short when the coronavirus pandemic hit, will continue to involve fewer visits to hospital following recommendations from the Dutch association for radio therapy and oncology NVRO.

‘Changes to the treatment for some cancers have been accelerated because of the coronavirus crisis,’ Marcel Verheij, chairman of the oncology platform SONCOS told the AD.

Fewer radiation therapy sessions do not affect the efficacy of the treatment, oncologists say, given the amount of radiation administered to patients is greater per session so the total remains the same.

In addition, the shorter treatment will only apply in cases where the scientific studies have shown fewer sessions to be safe, the AD said.

The change means that men who have prostate cancer and who are at a low or medium risk only have have five sessions a year instead of 30 to 35.

For some women with breast cancer, the number of sessions will go down from around 25 to five as well, although this will depend on the individual patient.

People having immunotherapy for bladder cancer or melanoma will now be given the medication once every six weeks instead of every three weeks.

‘Patients are happy about the shorter treatment process,’ Verheij said, but he didn’t expect the move to have an immediate effect on waiting lists. That will only happen when staff shortages have been solved, he said.

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