Clinical and Translational Oncology

, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp 596–603 | Cite as

Radiation therapy for early breast cancer

  • Georgios KoukourakisEmail author


In women with early-stage breast cancer treated with surgery alone, microscopic residual disease may not be eliminated and can eventually cause life-threatening metastatic recurrence. Radiation therapy has been widely recommended for local control after breast-conserving surgery (BCS) and after a complete mastectomy in women at high risk of recurrence. However, even with widespread support for these recommendations within the medical community, they are not always heeded. Because local recurrence, when detected early, can often be treated with additional surgery alone, some physicians and patients still elect to avoid radiation therapy. It was felt, based upon individual trial data, that radiation therapy did not affect overall survival, but just decreased local relapse. The meta-analysis, published in the December 17/2005 Lancet, analysed individual data from 42,000 women, collected during 78 different randomised trials conducted since 1985. The availability of extensive 15-year survival data allowed the investigators to quantify the relationship between successful local control and long-term survivorship. Moreover, individual trials all show a benefit in local control and some trends toward survival advantages. The pooled meta-analysis of breast conservative surgery with or without radiation therapy Vinh Hung (2004) demonstrates a significant impact on local relapse and a small but significant impact on survival. It is considered that after BCS and in certain cases after mastectomy, radiation therapy is the standard treatment for improved local control and long-term survival.


Early breast cancer Radiation therapy Mastectomy Breast conservative surgery Local control Overall survival 


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Copyright information

© Feseo 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.2nd Department of Radiology Radiotherapy Unit Attikon University HospitalUniversity of Athens Medical SchoolAthensGreece
  2. 2.Haidari, AthensGreece

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