Partial breast radiation following lumpectomy offers effective treatment alternative

Women with breast cancer may be able undergo treatment with a one-week regimen of partial breast radiation after surgery as opposed to irradiating the entire breast for multiple weeks, as a study published recently in Annals of Surgical Oncology showed no increase in recurrence or difference in cosmetic outcomes using the partial breast radiation technique.

Researchers at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center conducted the study, which featured data from more than 1,100 patients, one of the largest ever done on partial breast irradiation, according to the center.

"This gives us confidence there is a group of women who are suitable candidates for partial breast radiation and more women should discuss this treatment option with their doctors," said lead researcher Mitchell Kamrava, MD, in a statement.

Current standard of care involves irradiating the entire breast after lumpectomy over the course of five to seven weeks. Partial breast irradiation is designed to work in less time because a higher dosage is used over a smaller area. Since only the region around where the tumor was removed is irradiated, there is less exposure to other parts of the body.

From 1992 to 2013, more than 1,300 patients were treated with breast-conserving surgery and adjuvant accelerated partial breast irradiation using interstitial multicatheter brachytherapy, and 1,131 patients included in the study had more than a year of data available to assess outcomes. Histologies treated included 1,005 invasive ductal carcinoma and 240 ductal carcinoma-in situ.

After a mean follow-up of 6.9 years, risk of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence was 7.6 percent. Risk for regional failure or distant metastasis were 2.3 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively. Overall survival was 86.5 percent and cause-specific survival was 96.3 percent, reported Kamrava and colleagues.

Physician-reported cosmetic outcomes were excellent or good in 84 percent of patients with at least five years of follow-up.