Research Article| Volume 39, ISSUE 12, P1690-1697, August 2003

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Breast conservation surgery, with and without radiotherapy, in women with lymph node-negative breast cancer: a randomised clinical trial in a population with access to public mammography screening


      The effect of postoperative radiotherapy after sector resection for stage I-II lymph node-negative breast cancer was evaluated in a patient population with access to public mammographical screening. 1187 women were randomised to no further treatment or postoperative radiotherapy following a standardised sector resection and axillary dissection. Radiation was administered to a dose of 48-54 Gy. Median age was 60 years, and median size of the detected tumours was 12 mm. Of the women 65% had their tumours detected by mammographical screening. The relative risk (RR) of ipsilateral breast recurrence was significantly higher in the non-irradiated patients compared with the irradiated patients, RR=3.33 (95% Confidence Interval (CI) 2.13–5.19, P<0.001). The corresponding cumulative incidence at 5 years was 14% versus 4%, respectively. Overall survival (OS) was similar, RR=1.16 (95% CI 0.81–1.65, P=0.41), with 5 year probabilities of 93 and 94%, respectively. Recurrence-free survival (RFS) at 5 years was significantly lower in the non-irradiated women, 77% versus 88% (P<0.001). Although women above 49 years of age, whose tumours were detected with mammographical screening, had the lowest rate of ipsilateral breast recurrence in this study, the cumulative incidence of such event amounted to 10% at 5 years if radiotherapy was not given. Such a recurrence rate has been considered as unacceptably high, but is, however, in the same range as that reported after lumpectomy and postoperative radiotherapy in published series.


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