A breast cancer advocacy organisation is calling for better access to radiation technology that could be used to treat thousands of women.
The Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition wants to see a breakthrough radiation technology, Intra-Operative Radiation Therapy, used in women with low-risk early-stage breast cancer.
The therapy sees women receive a single shot of radiation during surgery to remove the tumour and can save women from having weeks of follow-up radiation treatment.
It is currently only being being used in private hospitals in New Zealand. In Australia the government last year agreed to publicly fund the treatment.
Coalition chairwoman Libby Burgess says the charity would like to see women in the public system in New Zealand receiving the treatment.
“We don’t believe that New Zealanders should miss out on world-class treatments such as this. This is a revolutionary new technology that will allow women with early breast cancer to be treated effectively, safely, quickly and cheaply.
“It will save many women the stress and anxiety of travelling for weeks of traditional radiation treatment and it could potentially mean more women will chose breast conserving surgery over a more invasive mastectomy.”
She believes up to 1000 women a year could benefit from the treatment.
Burgess says the new technology is low risk and a large clinical trial showed women who receive radiation intra-operatively at the time of surgery have low rates of disease recurrence and similar breast cancer survival rates to those receiving traditional radiation treatment.
In addition, she says the health system will benefit from the new technology because it is cheaper to provide than the five weeks of traditional radiation treatment.