In a nutshell
This study wanted to find out if performing radiation therapy on patients with breast cancer who have had surgery results in a lesser quality of life. The study found that the patients who had radiotherapy had a higher chance of having pain, swelling, skin problems and sensitivity in the area of the breast.
Breast cancer can be treated by removing the breast with the tumor in it, which is called mastectomy. Sometimes, the cancer can spread from the breast into the lymph nodes in the armpits. If cancer cells are found in four lymph nodes, doing radiation therapy increases survival. However, it is not known what happens if radiation therapy is done when there are 1-3 lymph nodes positive for cancer.
Methods & findings
This study consisted of 647 patients. All of these patients had breast cancer, and had surgery to remove the breast. All of these patients had 1, 2, or 3 lymph nodes positive for cancer. Of these, 487 had radiation therapy performed. The remaining 502 did not have radiation therapy.
Overall, the radiotherapy group had a higher chance of chest symptoms compared to the non-radiotherapy group. Symptoms included pain, swelling, sensitivity, and skin problems in the chest area that had been treated. The radiotherapy group were 2.17 times more likely to experience these symptoms than the non-radiotherapy group. As time went on, these symptoms lessened in both groups.
The bottom line
The study concluded that radiation therapy in patients with breast cancer with 1-3 positive lymph nodes after mastectomy had a higher chance of experiencing pain, swelling, and sensitivity in the chest area.
The fine print
This is a fairly large study. These results confirm others. More information about survival will come out soon.
Talk to your oncologist about your treatment plan.
Published By :
The Lancet. Oncology
Oct 15, 2018
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