For women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer, treatment with breast-conserving surgery plus radiation therapy may result in fewer cancer recurrences in or near the breast than mastectomy without radiation therapy. These results were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Breast cancers that are estrogen receptor-negative, progesterone receptor-negative, and HER2-negative are called triple-negative breast cancers. Triple-negative breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other breast cancers and have fewer treatment options.
For women with small breast cancers that have not spread to the lymph nodes, treatment often includes breast-conserving surgery (lumpectomy) plus radiation therapy or mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) without radiation therapy. These two approaches are generally thought to produce similar outcomes, but it’s possible that for certain subtypes of breast cancer one approach may be more effective than the other.
To compare breast-conserving therapy (lumpectomy plus radiation therapy) to mastectomy among women with early-stage (T1-2N0) triple-negative breast cancers, researchers evaluated information from 468 patients. The group was fairly evenly split in terms of how many had been treated with breast-conserving therapy and how many had been treated with mastectomy without radiation therapy.
Study participants were followed for a median of 7 years. One of the outcomes of interest was locoregional recurrence. This refers to a recurrence of the cancer in the breast, chest wall, or nearby lymph nodes.
- Five-year survival without a locoregional recurrence was 96% among women treated with breast-conserving surgery and 90% among women treated with mastectomy without radiation therapy. In other words, women treated with breast-conserving therapy had a lower risk of recurrence in the breast, chest wall, or lymph nodes than women treated with mastectomy without radiation therapy.
- At the time of the analysis, overall survival was similar in the two groups.
Although additional studies are needed, it’s possible that adding radiation therapy may improve outcomes among women who undergo mastectomy for early-stage, triple-negative breast cancer. In the current study, the risk of recurrence within or near the breast was lower among women treated with breast-conserving therapy (lumpectomy plus radiation therapy) than among women treated with mastectomy without radiation therapy.
Reference: Abdulkarim BS, Cuartero J, Hanson J et al. Increased risk of locoregional recurrence for women with T1-2N0 triple-negative breast cancer treated with modified radical mastectomy without adjuvant radiation therapy compared with breast-conserving therapy. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early online publication June 13, 2011.