Radiation following breast conserving surgery for women with smaller cancerous lesions is beneficial in terms of both recurrence and mortality, according to the results of a large meta-analyis of 17 studies published in The Lancet. The analysis was performed by researchers from the Early Breast Cancer Trialists Collaborative Group.
The retrospective study, which included over 10,000 women, demonstrated that, among women who received radiotherapy treatment after breast conserving surgery, the rate of cancer recurrence over the next decade was reduced by about half to 19 percent, compared to 35 percent for those who did not receive radiotherapy. Both breast cancer-related and overall mortality were also reduced by one-sixth among women receiving radiotherapy. After 15 years, 25 percent of women without radiotherapy died from breast cancer, compared to only 21 percent of those who received radiotherapy, with similar reductions in overall mortality.
This study and others like it, which assessed women with larger lesions or with lymph node spread, suggest that radiotherapy may be an important complement to surgery and chemotherapy in treating breast cancer. ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross comments, This study adds to the fairly convincing data that post-operative radiation therapy for breast cancer patients is beneficial for most women, in that it helps to reduce the frequency of recurrence and death.