What is the efficacy of radiation therapy for the treatment of invasive breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Meta-analyses have shown that postmastectomy radiation therapy combined with regional nodal radiation therapy significantly decreases the rate of local relapse and breast cancer mortality.

The benefit of radiation therapy for women with 1-3 positive ALNs has been uncertain. Nonetheless, a meta-analysis of 22 clinical studies found that among women with 1-3 positive nodes (1314 patients) following mastectomy and axillary dissection for early breast cancer, postmastectomy radiotherapy reduced the breast cancer mortality rate by 20% and reduced the recurrence rate by 32%. These benefits were similar among women with 1, 2, or 3 positive nodes. Mean follow-up was 11 years. Radiotherapy also benefited patients with 4 or more positive nodes, while no benefit was seen for those with node-negative disease. Among women with 4 or more positive nodes, radiotherapy reduced breast cancer mortality by 13% and overall recurrence by 21%. [122]

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