Target: Dr. Tom Frieden, Director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Goal: Reduce duration of radiation treatments for breast cancer patients
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States. For decades, treatment has involved surgery and chemotherapy, followed by five to seven weeks of radiation. However, growing numbers of studies suggest that patients are actually getting more radiation than they need, and that treatment could be cut down to three weeks with higher doses and still be effective. The studies show no extreme side effects, and the overall cost was thousands of dollars less. Yet, in spite of the strength of this evidence, changing a long-ingrained practice will be challenging.
The benefits to transitioning to shorter radiation treatment do not translate into financial savings alone. Three fewer weeks of treatment could also mean that patients with breast cancer could spend more time at home, at work, or with their friends and family. Patients could spend those days with fewer of the debilitating side effects that come with radiation.
Shifting to shorter treatment could also bring improvements to the healthcare system as a whole, reducing costs without sacrificing cancer care. The key to getting this practice adopted widely is doctors, who by establishing trust with their patients can help them understand that the three fewer weeks of treatment would save them money, physical and emotional stress, and time.
Please sign the petition below, and encourage the adoption of shorter radiation treatment for breast cancer patients.
Dear Dr. Frieden,
I am writing to bring you attention to the growing body of research regarding the equivalent effectiveness of three weeks of radiation for patients with breast cancer compared to the usual five to seven weeks. I urge you to use your leadership to initiate the transition among medical staff toward shorter radiation treatment.
This move would save patients money and reduce the healthcare system’s overall expenditures. Patients would also gain three weeks free of the debilitating effects of radiation, three more weeks of spending time at work, at home, or most importantly, with their friends and family. Please help enact this win-win situation for the healthcare system and patients and their loved ones.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Bill Branson via Wikimedia Commons