Thoughts on 5 v 15 radiotherapy sessions?

Hi all, I had my lumpectomy on 21st June (grade 2 IDC, er+, pr+, HER2-, no lymph involvement) and just had telephone consultation with oncologist today regarding starting radiotherapy. I’m being given the option whether I want to go down the 5 v 15 session route (same amount of radiation but delivered in higher doses for the 5sessions, which is a newer form of treatment). I’ll also have 5 booster sessions afterwards whichever option I go for. How has anyone else made the choice? I’m erring towards the 15 as whilst the trial results suggest the 5 doses is just as effective, there were less study participants in my age range (I’m 43) so they have a lower degree of confidence in the effectiveness for younger ages… I’ll be having radiotherapy in Leeds which is an hour’s drive each way each day for 20 days - this would be the main benefit for me in choosing the 5+5 over 15+5! Keen to hear what has swayed any of your decision making?  Thanks xx

I haven’t had to make this decision (I had radiotherapy prior to the new 5 sessions being an option - had 15 plus 5 boosters) but I did have to make a chemo decision where the balance was slightly tipping this way and then that way with no definite ‘answer’ either way. I mean - it was a decision I had to take where there were pros and cons and nobody could really inform me/guarantee anything either way. My BCN at the time, when I asked for her input (and I think it fits your situation/conundru here) is that it is a ‘psychological decision’. By that she meant that it is whatever you ‘gut feel’ you can more happily live with and accept, it is you that needs to live with the decision following your own research and processing of the treatment options. If neither option feels totally wrong or totally right, then its down to the best fit for you personally.

…although hearing what decisions others have made and why is part of the research process, there will be elements that you feel a bit more strongly about than others. If you really mull it over, putting those two issues you have raised next to each other -

  1. The number of participants in your age range, is the data as confident ?

  2. The rt would be more practical and over quicker.

  • then really imagine you have gone with 1. and really imagine you have gone with 2. The letter comes through and you are starting either 1. (15) or 2. (5) See what your ‘gut feel’ is…

I know that when I worked through things in a similar way during my choices, I did have a feeling that felt psychologically stronger…you don’t want to have regrets so all you can do is have ownership of the choice at the time.

This may not be totally helpful to you…and hopefully others will appear who have needed to make the choice to add to your research :slightly_smiling_face: I know what I would be doing - but my choice may not be your choice

(hopefully others will be along soon who can offer their thoughts on this 5v15 problem)

Hello @mrsszmu  

I had 15 sessions rather than 5: my oncologist made the decision for me, based on my age (50). Her reasoning was her reading of the research on the 5 is all the evidence suggests it is just as effective as the 15 but because the research was only 5 years old they only had data for recurrence after 5 years, however there is more data on recurrence after 15/20 years on the 15 session route: if I was older she probably would have gone with the 5. 
Fortunately I only live 15/20 minutes from the centre where I had my treatment so it wasn’t too much hassle. 
You may feel that having the 15 sessions is somehow more “complete” I know that might sound a bit odd, but personally I found the psychological effects of my diagnosis harder to deal with than any of the physical effects: I wanted to feel like I’d done everything I could and would have gone for as many sessions as I was told to, and it is not unusual when all the treatment finishes to feel a bit lost.

I hope this helps in your decision and wishing you all the best the next stage of your treatment and beyond

AM xxx