A new technique for treating breast cancer during surgery could spare patients from having prolonged radiotherapy sessions, according to a team of researchers.
In a trial of the treatment, called Targeted Intraoperative Radiotherapy (Targit), more than 2,000 women received a single dose of radiation targeted at the exact site of the cancer.
If adopted, Targit would cut out the need for patients to undergo post-operation radiotherapy, reducing their exposure to radiation.
It would also cut out the need for patients to make between 20 and 30 hospital visits in the six weeks following surgery.
Researchers think it could reduce waiting lists for treatment and save the NHS as much as £15m a year.
Professor Jeffrey Tobias, from University College London Hospitals Trust, said: “I think the reason why it works so well is because of the precision of the treatment.
“It is given in a single dose via an intraoperative probe and the conventional surgery is extended by just 30-40 minutes while the patient is asleep under anaesthetic.
Josephine Ford, 80, who took part in the trial in 2008, said the treatment made the process “less traumatic”.
She said: “It made life so much easier and meant that I didn’t have to come back to the radiotherapy department on a daily basis for five or six weeks.”