Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Clin Oncol. 1998 Apr;16(4):1374-9.

No long-term increase in cardiac-related mortality after breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy using modern techniques.

Author information

Joint Center for Radiation Therapy and the Division of Biostatistics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.



To determine whether left-breast irradiation using modern techniques after breast-conserving surgery leads to an increased risk of cardiac-related mortality.


Between 1968 and 1986, 1,624 patients were treated for unilateral stage I or II breast cancer at the Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, with conservative surgery and breast irradiation. Seven hundred forty-five patients with a potential follow-up of at least 12 years were analyzed. Clinical, pathologic, and treatment characteristics were compared between the 365 patients (49%) who received left-sided irradiation and the 380 patients (51%) who received right-sided irradiation. The relationship between left-sided breast irradiation and the risk of nonbreast cancer- and cardiac-related mortality was examined.


There was no significant difference in the distribution of clinical, pathologic, or treatment characteristics between the two groups, with the exception of a small difference in pathologic tumor size (medians, left, 2.0 cm, right, 1.5 cm; P = .007). At 12 years, a majority of patients still were alive. Slightly more patients with left-sided tumors had died of breast cancer (31% v 27%; P = NS). Equivalent proportions from each group died of nonbreast cancer causes (11%), including nine patients (2%) from each group who died from cardiac causes. The risk of cardiac mortality did not increase as time after treatment increased for patients who received left-sided irradiation compared with right-sided irradiation. A model that controlled for clinical, pathologic, and treatment differences showed no significant increase in any category of cause of death (breast, cardiac, or other) for patients who received left-sided irradiation.


These results suggest that modern breast radiotherapy is not associated with an increased risk of cardiac-related mortality within at least the first 12 years after treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Atypon
    Loading ...
    Support Center