Postmastectomy Radiation Therapy Improves Survival

Quality of treatment important to the outcome

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Breast cancer patients who undergo adjuvant radiation therapy after mastectomy have better survival rates after 10 years than those who do not, according to a study in the Jan. 4 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Val Gebski, of the University of Sydney, Australia, and colleagues analyzed the results of 36 clinical trials to assess the effects of radiation therapy on 13,199 patients with operable breast cancer.

At five years, patients who received appropriate amounts of radiation to the right tissue had a 2.9% absolute increase in survival, the researchers found. In 13 trials that provided 10-year data, adjuvant radiation therapy was associated with a 6.4% increase in survival.

"Adjuvant radiation therapy with an optimal biologically equivalent dose and target volume was statistically associated with improved survival for up to 10 years," the authors write.

In an editorial, Leonard R. Prosnitz, M.D., and Lawrence B. Marks, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C., point out that "the evidence is now strong for survival benefits for both postmastectomy radiation therapy and postlumpectomy radiation therapy."

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