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J Radiat Res. 2013 Jul 1;54(4):712-8. doi: 10.1093/jrr/rrt003. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

The effects of ECE on the benefits of PMRT for breast cancer patients with positive axillary nodes.

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  • 1The First Surgical Department of Breast Cancer, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Huanhu West Road, Hexi District, Tianjin 300060, China.



The purpose of the present study was to retrospectively evaluate the effects of extracapsular extension (ECE) on the benefits of post-mastectomy radiation therapy (PMRT) for groups of patients with varying numbers of positive axillary nodes (1-3, 4-9 and ≥10 positive axillary nodes).


A total of 1220 axillary node-positive patients who had received mastectomy were involved in this study. Patients were grouped as 'Radio + /ECE + ', 'Radio-/ECE + ', 'Radio + /ECE-' or 'Radio-/ECE-' according to status of ECE and whether receiving PMRT or not, and were evaluated in terms of local region relapse (LRR) rate. The 5-year and 10-year Kaplan-Meier disease-free survival and overall survival (OS) rates were analyzed.


ECE-positive differed from ECE-negative groups with statistical significance for all comparisons in favor of the ECE-negative group: 5-year locoregional failure-free survival (LRFFS) (82.69% vs 91.83%, P < 0.001), 10-year LRFFS (75.39% vs 90.02%, P < 0.001); 5-year OS (52.12% vs 74.46%, P < 0.001), 10-year OS (35.17% vs 67.63%, P < 0.001). There were no significant effects of ECE on the benefits of PMRT for patients with 1-3 (P = 0.5720), ≥10(P = 0.0614) positive axillary nodes. However, for the group of patients with 4-9 positive axillary nodes, ECE status had a significant effect on the benefits of PMRT with respect to 5-year and 10-year LRFFS (P < 0.05).


In our study, regardless of the ECE status, PMRT didn't significantly improve the LRFFS for patients with 1-3 or ≥10 positive axillary nodes. However, for patients with 4-9 positive axillary nodes, ECE could be an important criterion to consider when deciding whether to receive PMRT.


ECE; PMRT; breast neoplasms; prognosis

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