Adding Radiation Decreases Breast Cancer Recurrence
Radiotherapy after breast conserving surgery for breast cancer reduces recurrence and prevents development of additional breast tumors in older women with early stage breast disease, according to a new study.
Published in the journal Cancer, the study suggests that women also benefit from the recommended five years of tamoxifen treatment for hormone responsive tumors. Among women over 65 and treated with breast conserving surgery, the risk of local or regional recurrence increased up to 3.5 times if they did not receive radiation after their surgery.
Great strides have been made in breast cancer treatment. Breast conserving surgery in combination with radiotherapy and mastectomy provide women with two good options for their initial treatment. Augmenting surgery with hormone modulating drugs, such as tamoxifen, further improves survival and reduces recurrence.
Women over 65 are at the highest risk for breast cancer and make up half of those diagnosed. However, they are less likely to receive standard therapy, particularly radiotherapy after breast conserving surgery, than younger women. Making treatment recommendations for older patients, who may have more comorbidities than younger patients, is complicated by under-representation of older women in clinical trials and prognostic studies.