Radiation and/or endocrine therapy? Recurrence and survival outcomes in women over 70 with early breast cancer after breast-conserving surgery

Hannah Dahn, Derek Wilke, Gordon Walsh, Jean-Philippe Pignol
Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 2020, 182 (2): 411-420

PURPOSE: Women over 70 with early breast cancer treated with breast-conserving surgery are typically offered adjuvant endocrine and radiation therapy. Prior studies have supported the omission of adjuvant radiation in this low-risk population. We sought to compare the effect of adjuvant treatment with endocrine therapy alone, radiation therapy alone or both versus no adjuvant treatment on local control and survival in this population.

METHODS: Data were extracted on 1363 breast cancer patients over the age of 70 treated with a breast-conserving surgery from 2003 until 2018. 460 patients met inclusion criteria of pT1N0, invasive disease with negative margins and not treated with chemotherapy. The primary outcome of this population-based study was local recurrence-free survival at 5 and 10 years.

RESULTS: Patients receiving no adjuvant therapy had worse local recurrence-free, loco-regional recurrence-free and disease-free survival than patients receiving at least one form of adjuvant therapy (p < 0.05). 5-year local recurrence rates were 0.8% in patients receiving both endocrine and radiation therapy, 1.5% in those receiving radiation alone, 4.2% in those receiving endocrine therapy alone and 12% in those receiving no adjuvant therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: This study supports the benefit of some form of adjuvant therapy (radiation alone, endocrine therapy alone or both) in low-risk breast cancer patients over 70. Receiving no adjuvant therapy is associated with poorer outcomes. Many of these patients are candidates for Accelerated Partial Breast Irradiation which can be completed in less than a week. These patients should be offered radiation therapy, endocrine therapy or both.

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