Delayed Radiotherapy After Breast Cancer Surgery Studied
Study supports radiotherapy ASAP after breast-conserving surgery to minimize recurrence risk
WEDNESDAY, March 3 (HealthDay News) -- For women with breast cancer who have breast-conserving surgery, a delay of more than six weeks until follow-up radiotherapy may increase the risk for cancer recurrence, according to a study published March 2 in BMJ.
Rinaa S. Punglia, M.D., of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) and Medicare on 18,050 women older than 65 years with stage 0 to II breast cancer who had breast-conserving surgery and radiotherapy (but not chemotherapy).
The researchers found the median time from breast surgery to radiotherapy was 34 days, while 29.9 percent of women did not start radiotherapy for more than six weeks. Overall, slightly more than 4 percent of the women had a local recurrence, with a delay of more than six weeks until radiotherapy associated with increased recurrence risk (hazard ratio, 1.19). A delay until radiotherapy of more than six weeks was also associated with low income, being Hispanic, non-Caucasian race, positive nodes, comorbidities, later year of diagnosis, and living outside the southern U.S. states.
"There is a continuous relation between the interval from breast-conserving surgery to radiotherapy and local recurrence in older women with breast cancer, suggesting that starting radiotherapy as soon as possible could minimize the risk of local recurrence," the authors write.