What is hypofractionated radiation therapy?
When patients have external beam radiation therapy treatment (EBRT), the total dose of radiation they need is divided into a number of smaller doses, known as fractions.
Hypofractionation uses a smaller number of fractions compared with non-hypofractionated EBRT, each providing a slightly higher dose of radiation. This means people need fewer visits to
complete their course of radiation therapy.
Purpose of the initiative
This initiative focused on increasing access to hypofractionated radiotherapy for women with early-stage breast cancer at radiation oncology treatment centres across NSW. This resulted in an increased uptake of hypofractionation. The Cancer Institute NSW now leads the monitoring phase of this initiative.
Hypofractionated radiotherapy is the recommended standard of care for most women with early-stage breast cancer. However, the proportion of women receiving hypofractionation can vary across NSW treatment centres and local health districts.
Increasing hypofractionation rates potentially improves value in the key LBVC domains:
- health outcomes – more women receiving best-practice care
- the experience of patients – women requiring less visits to the radiotherapy centre reducing the impact on their day-to-day lives
- the experience of healthcare providers – clinicians can use their time more efficiently and better support patients who need radiotherapy
- effective and efficient care – radiotherapy centres may be able to treat more people with existing resources.
Activities completed as part of the initiative
The Institute supported local health districts and specialty health networks to increase rates of hypofractionation by:
- reporting rates of hypofractionation across NSW radiation oncology treatments centres and working to understand variation in the uptake of hypofractionation
- partnering with local health districts to co-design tools to support greater uptake of hypofractionation
- understanding the barriers and enablers to the uptake of hypofractionation for women with early-stage breast cancer, and sharing these learnings across NSW
- ensuring the effective and efficient use of resources by improving access to hypofractionation across NSW.
Activities supporting the initiatives monitoring phase
- Rates of hypofractionation continue to be reported and monitored across NSW radiation oncology treatment centres.