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NICE Recommends Intrabeam Radiotherapy for Early Breast Cancer

July 29, 2014

The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is recommending that the government pay for intrabeam radiotherapy as a treatment option for people with early breast cancer.

According to draft guidance published July 24, the technology offers certain efficiencies over external beam radiotherapy, such as the need for just one dose, which is provided during surgery, versus repeated doses over weeks or even months.

Patients treated with intrabeam radiotherapy in the TARGIT clinical trial had a five-year cumulative mortality risk of 3.9 percent, compared with 5.3 percent for the EBRT group, but overall survival between the two study arms was not statistically significant, the guidance says. 

Currently, only six centers in the UK offer the Intrabeam Radiotherapy System, which is made by Carl Zeiss UK. Nice Director of Health Technology Evaluation Carole Longson said the Appraisal Committee concluded that “whilst current evidence was not extensive, this type of radiotherapy was more convenient for patients and can improve a person’s quality of life.”

An estimated 41,500 women and 300 men in England are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, and figures suggest around 86 percent will potentially have early breast cancer, NICE says.

The cost-benefit watchdog expects to finalize the guidance by November. In the meantime, local National Health Service trusts should make their own funding decisions about the treatment.

The Intrabeam Radiotherapy System was CE-marked in 1999 for use in general radiotherapy. — Kellen Owings

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