Radiation after Mastectomy in High-Risk Patients: Is It Necessary?

Patterson, Scott; Ko, Albert; O'Connell, Theodore X.
December 2001
American Surgeon;Dec2001, Vol. 67 Issue 12, p1209
Academic Journal
A retrospective review of cases from 1988 through 1992 was performed examining high-risk breast cancer patients treated with modified radical mastectomy without postoperative radiation at a single institution. Locoregional recurrence, distant metastases, overall survival, and number of lymph nodes removed were examined. This was compared with recent Danish and Canadian studies. Thirty-three premenopausal node-positive breast cancer patients had a 9 per cent locoregional recurrence rate. In the Danish and Canadian studies the locoregional recurrence rates were 32 and 21 per cent. These were reduced to 9 per cent and 10 per cent respectively in the radiated arms. Our locoregional recurrence in nonradiated patients was similar to that in the radiated arms of the studies and improved when compared with recurrence in their non-radiated controls. The adequacy of the axillary lymph node dissection was examined. In the current study a median of 18 lymph nodes were recovered with only 3 per cent containing less than 12 nodes. In the Danish study a median of seven lymph nodes were removed. Similarly in the Canadian trial a median of 11 nodes were removed. With complete axillary dissection results equivalent to those of postoperative adjuvant radiation is achieved. Further randomized controlled studies with standard axillary dissections are needed before the recommendation of routine postoperative radiotherapy.


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