Purpose: To evaluate the long-term cause-specific survival (CSS), locoregional recurrence-free survival (LRFS), and metastases-free survival (MFS) in elderly breast cancer patients receiving adjuvant normofractionated (NF) or hypofractionated (HF) radiotherapy (RT).
Methods and materials: Between 1995 and 1999, 367 women aged >or=70 years with nonmetastatic Stage T1 or T2 tumors were treated by breast-conserving surgery and adjuvant RT at the Institut Curie. They underwent wide tumor excision with or without lymph node dissection followed by RT. They received either a NF-RT schedule, which delivered a total dose of 50 Gy (25 fractions, 5 fractions weekly) to the whole breast, followed by a boost to the tumor bed when indicated, or a HF-RT schedule, which delivered a total dose of 32.5 Gy (five fractions of 6.5 Gy, once weekly) with no subsequent boost. The HF-RT schedule was indicated for the more elderly patients.
Results: A total of 317 patients were in the NF-RT group, with 50 in the HF-RT group. The median follow-up was 93 months (range, 9-140). The 5- and 7-year CSS, LRFS, and MFS rates were similar in both groups. The 5-year NF-RT and HF-RT rate was 96% and 95% for CSS, 95% and 94% for LRFS, and 94% and 95% for MFS, respectively. The 7-year NF-RT and HF-RT rate was 93% and 87% for CSS, 93% and 91% for LRFS, and 92% and 93% for MFS, respectively.
Conclusion: According to the findings from this retrospective study, the HF-RT schedule is an acceptable alternative to NF-RT for elderly patients. However, large-scale prospective randomized trials are needed to confirm these results.