Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer
Radiation Therapy has long occupied an important role in the treatment of women with breast cancer. In fact, the very first patient undergoing radiotherapy was a woman with breast cancer (History of Radiation Therapy).
Today, radiotherapy is used in nearly all patients, particularly those undergoing breast conservation therapy (BCT). Multiple clinical trials (view paper 1 and paper 2) have demonstrated the equivalence of BCT compared to more radical surgery (mastectomy) in terms of both local tumor recurrence and survival. Consequently, BCT has become the treatment of choice in most breast cancer patients treated in the United States today.
Radiotherapy is also commonly used in patients following mastectomy if they are found to have certain “high risk” factors, e.g. tumor involvement in regional lymph nodes. In these patients, radiation has been found to not only reduce the chance of a local recurrence, but it also has been shown in several large clinical trials to improve patient survival.
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