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Shorter cancer treatment time for some patients with new guideline

 Group of 7 men and women standing in a line to the left of a pull up sign that reads NCCP Cancer Control.                   a sign that reads



The introduction of a new clinical guideline in the treatment of patients with breast cancer means that for some patients, their total radiotherapy dose can be provided over a shorter timeframe – within a week compared with 3 to 5 weeks; while for others new techniques will reduce the burden of attending hospital for radiotherapy treatment.

The new National Clinical Guideline was recently published by the HSE National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP).  It was 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.

According to Prof Risteárd Ó Laoide, National Director, HSE NCCP, this is “welcome news for patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. The guideline sets out recommendations that will mean shorter treatment time for some patients, and therefore fewer in-hospital appointments. This will create some additional capacity in the service, meaning more patients can be treated in the same timeframe than previously.”

Breast cancer survivor Kathleen O’Connor, who participated in the patient focus group that supported the development of the guideline, said it was “fantastic to see these new recommendations. I was delighted to be involved in the patient focus group as I feel that incorporating the patient’s perspective when developing guidance was really valuable.”

Multi-disciplinary group

The guideline was developed by a multi-disciplinary group chaired by Dr Eve OToole, Head of Evidence and Quality Hub in the NCCP, who explained that they “worked with radiation oncology clinicians and engaged with patient representatives to develop this evidence-based guideline. We integrated their clinical experience and patient values with the best current evidence to formulate recommendations for clinical practice. The patient focus group provided views of those who are most impacted by its recommendations, and their valuable feedback shaped the overall guideline.”

 Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ireland, and the most common cancer among females (National Cancer Registry Ireland, 2022). According to the National Cancer Registry of Ireland (NCRI), there was an average of 3,392 cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in Ireland annually between 2018–2020.

The new guideline is an update to the 2015 guidelines and includes 10 new recommendations, as well as updated evidence to support previous recommendations.

Access the National Clinical Guidelines for patients with Breast Cancer