India-born doc helps achieve breakthrough in cancer treatment

A breakthrough in cancer therapy by a team of British doctors, led by Goa-born Jayant S Vaidya, could ensure that the painful and time-consuming radiotherapy for breast cancer could soon be a single-dose, 30-minute affair instead of the present regimen lasting over six weeks.

A medical team headed by University College London's Vaidya has successfully created and tested a new technique that will blast the remnants of a tumour inside the breast in just one shot, lasting half an hour. The team used radiation on areas just around the tumour rather than the whole breast, as is done at present.

A 10-year trial of this `Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy' (TIR), conducted in nine countries involving over 2,200 women, confirmed that radiation targeting a specific area of the breast was as effective as whole-breast radiation in reducing breast cancer recurrence in women.

The results of this trial were published in the latest edition of the medical journal The Lancet.

While a patient is still under anaesthesia following the removal of the tumour, a series of gentle X-rays are administered to destroy any remaining tumour cells at the cancer site. The technique is highly convenient, requiring just one session of radiation, making it less time consuming and less costly than whole-breast treatment.

"The 'Targit' trial can change two fundamental principles in the treatment of breast cancer: whole breast radiotherapy can be replaced by a targeted one-time shot and a much smaller dose of radiation may be adequate," Vaidya said. Several hospitals in India, including Breach Candy in Mumbai and AIIMS in Delhi, have expressed interest in his work, he added.