Long-term cosmesis after lumpectomy and brachytherapy in the management of carcinoma of the previously irradiated breast

Mark Trombetta, Thomas B Julian, Day E Werts, Woodrow McWilliams, Yongbok Kim, Moyed Miften, David Parda
American Journal of Clinical Oncology 2009, 32 (3): 314-8

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the cosmetic outcome of brachytherapy after lumpectomy in the management of carcinoma of the previously irradiated breast.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between January 1998 and April 2008, 26 patients with TIS or T1 breast carcinoma were offered interstitial or intracavitary brachytherapy after lumpectomy in a previously irradiated breast as an alternative to salvage mastectomy. Twenty-five of 26 patients had prior lumpectomy followed by standard postoperative external beam radiotherapy for early stage carcinoma of the breast [dose range 5000-6040 cGy]. One patient developed breast cancer after full mantle irradiation [4500 cGy to the mediastinum and axillae] for Hodgkin Lymphoma 27 years earlier. All tumors were excised with final margins of resection free of disease per National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project definition. After lumpectomy, tumor bed implantation was carried out utilizing a low dose rate interstitial technique in 22 patients, whereas 3 patients were treated with high dose rate brachytherapy using the MammoSite brachytherapy catheter and 1 patient was treated with high dose rate brachytherapy using the Contura catheter. The low dose rate treatment consisted of 4500 to 5000 cGy at 35 to 50 cGy per hour to the tumor bed plus a 1.0 cm margin, whereas the high dose rate treatment consisted of 3400 cGy in twice daily fractions of 340 cGy currently used in National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project B-39. Cosmesis was graded according to the B-39 cosmesis scale for de novo treatments: grade I as excellent, grade II as good, Grade III as fair, and Grade IV as poor.

RESULTS: Eighteen patients were scored as grade I, 6 as grade II, and 2 as grade III. No patient received a Grade IV score. All 4 balloon brachytherapy patients were scored as Grade I. Twenty-five of 26 patients remained free of local failure with a median follow-up of 38 months (range 6-75 months). The only patient to develop a second local recurrence was graded as grade I before salvage mastectomy. Two patients developed wound dehiscence after immediate postlumpectomy implantation. Two have succumbed to metastatic breast carcinoma at 17 and 24 months after salvage implant therapy. An additional patient has succumbed to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. All patients, regardless of cosmesis grade were satisfied with their decision for repeat conservation therapy. Factors affecting cosmesis were distance from the implant to the skin, the type of device used, and the amount of residual breast tissue after repeat lumpectomy.

CONCLUSIONS: The cosmetic effect of brachytherapy after lumpectomy in the management of recurrent carcinoma of the previously irradiated breast is acceptable in highly selected patients. Intracavitary technique may provide superior cosmetic results for patients retreated with brachytherapy for salvage.

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