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Radiation Helps Survival for Inflammatory Breast Cancer

But only 42 percent of patients live to five years

TUESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Although radiation therapy appears to improve survival for inflammatory breast cancer patients, only 42 percent survive five years, and the order of treatment does not seem to help, according to a report in the June issue of Archives of Surgery.

Rory L. Smoot, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues studied 156 patients with inflammatory breast cancer between 1985 and 2003, excluding 28 with metastases. Some 57 percent of the remaining 128 patients had been through menopause, and their mean age was 53.

Inflammatory breast cancer was detectable in 122 patients, and tumors in 83 patients had a mean diameter of 9.1 centimeters. Among study patients, 106 were first treated with neoadjuvant chemotherapy, while 22 of the patients first underwent surgery.

The patients' mean total survival was 37 months, while they remained free of disease for a mean of 23 months. Adenopathy during the first examination was linked to shorter survival, but radiation therapy was linked to increased survival, the researchers found.

"Survival from inflammatory breast cancer remains poor," the authors write. "Although adenopathy and radiotherapy affected survival by multivariate analysis, the sequence of therapy was not associated with improved outcome."

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