Background: The optimal fractionation schedule for whole-breast irradiation after breast-conserving surgery is unknown.
Methods: We conducted a study to determine whether a hypofractionated 3-week schedule of whole-breast irradiation is as effective as a 5-week schedule. Women with invasive breast cancer who had undergone breast-conserving surgery and in whom resection margins were clear and axillary lymph nodes were negative were randomly assigned to receive whole-breast irradiation either at a standard dose of 50.0 Gy in 25 fractions over a period of 35 days (the control group) or at a dose of 42.5 Gy in 16 fractions over a period of 22 days (the hypofractionated-radiation group).
Results: The risk of local recurrence at 10 years was 6.7% among the 612 women assigned to standard irradiation as compared with 6.2% among the 622 women assigned to the hypofractionated regimen (absolute difference, 0.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -2.5 to 3.5). At 10 years, 71.3% of women in the control group as compared with 69.8% of the women in the hypofractionated-radiation group had a good or excellent cosmetic outcome (absolute difference, 1.5 percentage points; 95% CI, -6.9 to 9.8).
Conclusions: Ten years after treatment, accelerated, hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation was not inferior to standard radiation treatment in women who had undergone breast-conserving surgery for invasive breast cancer with clear surgical margins and negative axillary nodes. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00156052.)
2010 Massachusetts Medical Society