Radiation Therapy More Beneficial To Older Breast Cancer Patients [Study]

While national treatment guidelines do not list radiation therapy as a treatment for early stage estrogen-driven breast cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes, a recent study shows that the treatment could actually be beneficial to older breast cancer patients, helping to prevent a mastectomy.

The study was performed by Benjamin Smith of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and his team, who analyzed data from 7,403 women between 70 and 79 years old, who underwent a lumpectomy. The team was able to establish that 88 percent of the participants received radiation following the lumpectomy, reports Medical News Today.

MedPage Today notes that older women who had early-stage breast cancer were two-thirds less likely to return for a mastectomy is they received radiation therapy after their lumpectomy. Ten years after the conservative surgery, the risk of a mastectomy was 3.2 in patients over 70 who were treated with radiation, and 6.3 percent in those who did not undergo the therapy. Dr. Smith stated:

“Outside of a clinical trial, the receipt of radiation therapy after conservative surgery is associated with a greater likelihood of ultimate breast preservation for most women ages 70 to 79 years who have early breast cancer.”

Smith went on to say that, “This benefit should be considered by patients and physicians when evaluating choices for local treatment.” Researchers noted that there was one subgroup of patients who did not benefit from radiation therapy. This group was women who had pathologic lymph node assessment with not evidence of high-grade tumor and were between ages 75 and 79.