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Bull Cancer. 2012 Apr 1;99(4):471-7. doi: 10.1684/bdc.2012.1548.

[Axillary lymph node irradiation in breast cancer: state of the art].

[Article in French]

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Institut de cancérologie de la Loire, département de radiothérapie, Saint-Priest-en-Jarez, France.


Place of axillary radiotherapy in the management of patients with breast cancer remains debated. While the prognostic value of axillary lymph node extension has been largely demonstrated, the benefit of axillary treatment is more uncertain. Large clinical trials having demonstrated the benefit of adjuvant radiotherapy in advanced breast cancer comprised large nodal irradiation, including axillary area. Analyzing the true benefit of axillary radiotherapy is rendered difficult by heterogeneity of series, particularly when focusing on the extent of lymph node dissection. Although adjuvant axillary radiotherapy is usually recommended in patients with insufficient lymph node dissection or with bulky axillary involvement, the prognosis in these patients remains poor by metastatic evolution and such strategy exposes to increased toxicity and functional sequels. Further assessments should better define the optimal indications and the true benefit of axillary radiotherapy.

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