According to results recently presented at the 2006 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, boost radiation among women with Stage I or Stage II breast cancer reduces the risk of cancer recurrence within the breast but does not affect 10-year survival.
Breast-conserving surgery is generally followed by radiation therapy. In addition to receiving radiation therapy to the entire breast, women with early breast cancer often receive an additional boost of radiation to the area of the cancer.
To evaluate the benefits and side effects of boost radiation, researchers affiliated with the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) conducted a study among 5,318 women with early breast cancer.
After breast-conserving surgery, all patients received 50 Gy of radiation to the entire breast. Half the patients also received a 16 Gy radiation boost to the area of the cancer. The remaining patients received no further radiation therapy.
- Ten-year survival was 82% in both study groups (the group that received boost radiation and the group that did not receive boost radiation).
- The ten-year risk of cancer recurrence within the breast was 6.2% in patients who received boost radiation and 10.2% in patients who did not receive boost radiation.
- Young women (those under the age of 40) experienced the greatest reduction in recurrence risk following boost radiation.
- Severe fibrosis occurred in 4.4% of patients treated with boost radiation, compared with only 1.6% of patients who did not receive boost radiation.
The researchers concluded that the addition of boost radiation reduced the risk of cancer recurrence within the breast, particularly in younger patients, but did not improve 10-year survival.
Reference: Bartelink H, Horiot J, Poortmans P, et al. Impact of radiation dose on local control, fibrosis and survival after breast conserving treatment: 10-year results of the EORTC trial 22881-10882. Proceedings from the 2006 annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Oral presentation December 14, 2006. Abstract #10.
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