London: A new study, led by a UK research team, has suggested that a single dose of radiation during surgery is just as effective as a prolonged course of radiotherapy for breast cancer.
The technique, which involves a single shot of radiotherapy to a tumour site, has been tested in more than 2,000 patients.
The researchers said using the one-stop procedure would be more convenient for patients.
In the new technique, doctors use a mobile radiotherapy machine that can be inserted into the breast to target the exact site of the cancer.
The four-year trial in women over 45 showed similar rates of disease recurrence regardless of the treatment used.
There were six cases of the disease returning in those who had the new single-dose technique and five cases in those undergoing a prolonged course of radiotherapy.
But the single dose during surgery avoids potential damage to organs such as the heart, lung, and oesophagus, which can occur during radiation to the whole breast, the researchers said.
The frequency of any complications and major toxic effects was similar in the two groups.
"I think the reason why it works so well is because of the precision of the treatment. It eradicates the very highest risk area - the part of the breast from which the tumour was removed," the BBC quoted University College London Hospitals (UCLH) oncologist Prof Jeffrey Tobias as saying.
Cancer Research UK said that The Lancet study could have a ‘huge impact’ for patients.