Long-term results of adjuvant hypofractionated radiotherapy for breast cancer in elderly patients

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2005 Jan 1;61(1):154-62. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2004.04.059.


Purpose: To evaluate early and late reactions, local control, disease-free survival, cause-specific survival, and overall survival of elderly breast cancer patients treated with adjuvant once-weekly hypofractionated radiotherapy (RT).

Methods and materials: Between 1987 and 1999, 150 patients (median age, 78 years) who presented with 151 nonmetastatic breast tumors were treated with surgery and then adjuvant hypofractionated RT. The clinical stage distribution was as follows: T1 in 47.7%, T2 in 43.2%, T3 in 6.1%, and T4 in 3.0%. Axillary lymph nodes were positive in 33.8% of cases. Estrogen receptors were present in 89.9%, and progesterone receptors in 77.3%. Conservative breast surgery was performed in 71.5% and total mastectomy in 28.5%. RT was delivered once weekly in five fractions of 6.5 Gy to a total dose of 32.5 Gy. A boost was delivered to the tumor bed in 33.1%. Adjuvant hormonal therapy was given in 76.2% of patients. The median follow-up was 65 months.

Results: The Kaplan-Meier rate of all grades of early skin reactions was 26.5%, and the rate of all late reactions was 45.5%, mainly Grades 1 and 2. Early and late reactions were greater in those who underwent boost RT. The long-term local recurrence rate was 2.3%. The 5-year and 10-year disease-free survival rate was 80% and 71.5%, respectively. The corresponding rates for cause-specific survival were 89.1% and 77.6%. The 5-year and 10-year overall survival rate was 71.6% and 46.5%, respectively. These endpoints were influenced by tumor size, lymph node status, and hormone receptor status to varying degrees; however, tumor size appeared to be a major determinant on multivariate analysis.

Conclusions: This hypofractionated RT scheme resulted in mild early reactions and acceptable late toxicity, in addition to providing excellent long-term local control. It can be proposed to patients who would have difficulties sustaining daily treatment because of old age or disabling associated disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / radiotherapy
  • Carcinoma, Lobular / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Radiation Injuries / pathology
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant