Radiotherapy for patients with unresected locally advanced breast cancer Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Management of locally-advanced breast cancer is determined by multiple factors, but in patients without distant metastases often involves neoadjuvant systemic therapy, surgery and radiation. If the primary tumour remains unresectable following systemic therapy, radiotherapy may be used for tumour shrinkage prior to surgery. When metastatic disease is present, locoregional radiotherapy is generally reserved for management of tumour-related symptoms. We reviewed our experience of high-dose radiotherapy for unresected locally-advanced breast cancer. METHODS: A retrospective chart review was conducted of patients with unresected locally advanced breast cancer (LABC) receiving external beam radiotherapy to the breast, chest wall and/or regional lymph nodes. Patients were stratified based on the presence of metastatic disease at presentation. Patient demographics, disease characteristics, and treatment outcomes were recorded. RESULTS: Forty-three cases were analyzed between 2004 and 2016. Median follow-up was 25 months from diagnosis and 14 months from completion of radiotherapy. There were 24 cases (56%) with metastatic disease on presentation, and 19 (44%) without. Tumour shrinkage occurred within 3 months of completing radiotherapy in 36 cases (84%). Ulceration and bleeding improved following radiotherapy in 13 (54%) of the 24 applicable cases. Twenty-six patients (60%) developed moist desquamation but none experienced grade 4 or 5 radiation dermatitis. Median locoregional progression-free survival for all patients was 12 months from completion of radiotherapy. Locoregional progression-free survival (P=0.2) and overall survival (OS) (P=0.4) were not significantly different between patients with and without distant metastases at presentation. CONCLUSIONS: Radiotherapy provided good response and symptom control in most patients in this study; there is a role for palliative radiotherapy in patients with LABC.


  • Yee, Caitlin
  • Alayed, Yasir
  • Drost, Leah
  • Karam, Irene
  • Vesprini, Danny
  • McCann, Claire
  • Soliman, Hany
  • Zhang, Liying
  • Chow, Edward
  • Chan, Stephanie
  • Lee, Justin

publication date

  • October 2018