Ridley-Tree Cancer Center has opened a radiation oncology clinical trial for breast cancer patients and the enrollment of the trial’s first patient in Santa Barbara.
The trial focuses on whether patients with early stage breast cancer between ages 50 and 69 who meet certain criteria can avoid radiation treatment and still receive good outcomes, according to a news release from the Santa Barbara center.
“Historically, radiation therapy for breast cancer was a one-size-fits-all approach, including six weeks of radiation regardless of the aggressiveness of the disease,” said Dr. Shane Cotter, a radiation oncologist and principal investigator for this trial. “Our understanding of the disease has evolved over time, such that oncologists have begun to de-escalate treatment for less aggressive subsets. While one does not want to undertreat, we do not want to overtreat those patients we expect to still do very well with less aggressive therapies.”
Dr Cotter added that for younger women, the tendency has been to treat routinely with radiation. Studies in carefully-selected women 70 and over have shown no survival benefit to adding radiation, he noted
“In older women, sometimes after surgery, just the anti-hormone pill is enough protection for the breast and body, because the risks are low,” Dr. Cotter said. “The research shows with this treatment plan, women in that age group can forgo the radiation and still do very well. So we are now asking, if it’s true for the older women, is it is also true for younger women ages 50 to 69, who are very carefully selected.”
The nationwide trial that Ridley-Tree is joining seeks to enroll 1,714 women from 339 different study sites across the country. These patients will continue the treatment course decided on with their medical team, but half will no longer receive radiation therapy. For those who do receive radiation, it will follow standard of care.
“Participants in this trial will go through a process called randomization with a 50/50 chance of study arm assignment. Who ends up with radiation treatment is not decided by us. The study will assign women to one arm of the trial or the other,” said Heidi Heitkamp, clinical research department manager.
Trial participant’s care will be followed for 10 years, with the primary study completion date in 2026. Final results are expected in 2041.
For more information on this specific clinical trial, visit clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT04852887
For more information on Ridley-Tree’s Clinical Research Department, visit