Cancer Patients Who Miss Radiation Treatments at High Risk for Relapse

According to a new study published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, cancer patients who miss two or more radiation treatment sessions are at increased risk for a return of their cancer.  

The study, which was conducted at the Montefiore Einstein Center for Cancer Care (MECCC) and the Albert Einstein Cancer Center, evaluated 1,227 patients scheduled for courses of external beam radiation therapy for cancers of the head and neck, breast, lung, cervix uterus or rectum from 2007 to 2012.  Of those patients, 226 (22 percent) missed two or more scheduled radiation treatment appointments.  

While all patients eventually completed their radiation therapy regimens, they were prolonged an average of one week for those who missed two or more treatment sessions.  Rates of cancer recurrence were 16 percent for patients who missed two or more radiation sessions and 7 percent for those who did not. 

Madhur Garg, M.D., clinical director, Department of Radiation Oncology, MECCC and professor of clinical radiation oncology at Einstein, said “This study shows that the health of our patients can improve only when a course of treatment is completed in the prescribed period of time.  These findings should serve as a wake-up call to physicians, patients and their caregivers about the critical need to adhere to a recommended treatment schedule.” 

As found by this study, radiation therapy is most effective when it is continuous and a full course is completed.  Cancer patients who miss two or more radiation therapy sessions may have a worse outcome than fully compliant patients.  In order to get the full benefit of radiation therapy, it’s important for you to keep all of your scheduled appointments. 

The physicians and staff at the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazleton understand that your time is important.  Scheduling can be one of the challenges of radiation treatment, but we are here to try to help you keep to your normal day-to-day routine during radiation therapy.  Appointments are generally short (about 15 minutes) and the staff will try to give you a daily appointment time that is as convenient as possible for you. 

If you, or a loved one, have been diagnosed with cancer and you have questions, please contact the Cancer Treatment Center at Hazleton today.