This year the Breast Retreat hosted by The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) looked a little different than previous years as it pivoted to a virtual format. The Breast Rehab team attended together to learn about the new and innovative treatment options, difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and other topics related to breast cancer.
One of the new treatment options we learned about was the lowering of the number of sessions for radiation therapy while still delivering the same amount of radiation. We learned that, in these new treatment protocols the same amount of radiation is administered over a shorter period than what was previously considered the standard. The trial that TOH has been implementing has taken the traditional 15-session schedule and reduced it to a 5-session schedule. It has been interesting to follow patients in our clinic who have been through this protocol!
Another procedure discussed in detail was oncoplastic surgery. Surgeons at TOH discussed various surgery options that would minimize the cosmetic changes of patients undergoing breast surgery. They explained multiple options for different tumour locations and sizes. Oncoplastics is a newer field of practice, and an increasing number of surgeons are providing their patients with this surgical option. Oncoplastic procedures decrease the visible changes to the breast, which can improve psychosocial outcomes and reduce stress related to body image.
Learning about these new procedures and treatment options, as well as exploring the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, was a great educational experience for our team. We look forward to attending in the coming years and continuing to learn about the innovations in breast cancer medicine.