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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1996 Mar 15;34(5):1019-28.

Possibility of conservative local treatment after combined chemotherapy and preoperative irradiation for locally advanced noninflammatory breast cancer.

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Service de Cancérologie-Radiothérapie, Hôpital Tenon, Paris, France.



The aims of this prospective study were to evaluate the outcome and the possibility of breast conservation therapy for patients with locally advanced noninflammatory breast cancer after primary chemotherapy followed by external preoperative irradiation.


Between April 1982 and June 1990, 97 patients with locally advanced nonmetastatic and noninflammatory breast cancer were treated. The median follow-up was 93 months from the beginning of treatment. The induction treatment consisted of four courses of chemotherapy (doxorubicin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide, 5-fluorouracil) followed by preoperative irradiation (45 Gy to the breast and nodal areas). A fifth course of chemotherapy was given after irradiation therapy. Three different loco-regional approaches were proposed, depending on the tumoral response. In 37 patients (38%) with residual tumor larger than 3 cm in diameter or located behind the nipple or with bifocal tumors, mastectomy and axillary dissection were performed. Sixty other patients (62%) benefited from conservative treatment: 33 patients (34%) achieved complete remission and no surgery was done but additional radiation boost was given to the initial tumor bed; 27 patients (28%) who had a residual mass less than or equal to 3 cm in diameter were treated by wide excision and axillary dissection followed by a boost to the excision site. After completion of local therapy, all patients received a sixth course of chemotherapy. A maintenance adjuvant chemotherapy regimen without anthracycline was prescribed (12 monthly cycles).


The 5-year actuarial loco-regional relapse rate was 16% after radiotherapy alone, 16% following wide excision and radiotherapy, and 5.4% following mastectomy. The 5-year loco-regional relapse rate was significantly higher after conservative local treatment (wide excision and radiotherapy, and radiotherapy alone) than after mastectomy (p= 0.04). After conservative local treatment, the 5-year breast conserving rate of patients with loco-regional disease-free status was 84%. For all patients included in this study, the 5-year breast-conserving rate of those who were loco-regional disease-free was 52%. In multivariate analysis, the possibility of breast conservative treatment was significantly related to the initial tumor size and age (more conservative treatment for tumor size < 6cm and age < 50 years). Five- and 10-year overall survival rates and disease-free survival rates were 80, 69, 73, and 61% respectively. Five- and 10-year overall survival rates were not influenced by the local treatment (conservative vs. nonconservative local treatment, p = 0.9). On the other hand, local failure significantly decreased the 5- and 10-year overall survival rates (p , 0.0001). In multivariate analysis, three factors had a significant impact on overall survival and disease-free survival: tumor response after induction chemotherapy, initial tumor size, and clinical stage. Arm lymphedema was noted in 12.5% (8 out of 64) of the patients treated with axillary dissection and in 3% (1 out of 33) without axillary dissection. Cosmetic results were satisfactory in 79% of patients after wide excision and radiotherapy and in 71% of patients treated by radiotherapy alone.


Induction chemotherapy followed by preoperative irradiation may permit the selection of some patients with locally advanced breast cancer for conservative treatment. However, the impact of this treatment modality on long-term survival remains to be established.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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