Radiotherapy for stage II and stage III breast cancer patients with negative lymph nodes after preoperative chemotherapy and mastectomy

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Jan 1;82(1):e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.12.054. Epub 2011 Mar 4.


Purpose: To evaluate the effect of postmastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) in Stage II-III breast cancer patients with negative lymph nodes (pN0) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC).

Patients and materials: Of 1,054 breast cancer patients treated with NAC at our institution between 1990 and 2004, 134 had pN0 status after NAC and mastectomy. The demographic data, tumor characteristics, metastatic sites, and treatments were prospectively recorded. The effect of PMRT on locoregional recurrence-free survival and overall survival (OS) was evaluated by multivariate analysis, including known prognostic factors.

Results: Of the 134 eligible patients, 78 (58.2%) received PMRT and 56 (41.8%) did not. At a median follow-up time of 91.4 months, the 5-year locoregional recurrence-free survival and OS rate was 96.2% and 88.3% with PMRT and 92.5% and 94.3% without PMRT, respectively (p = NS). The corresponding values at 10 years were 96.2% and 77.2% with PMRT and 86.8% and 87.7% without PMRT (p = NS). On multivariate analysis, PMRT had no effect on either locoregional recurrence-free survival (hazard ratio, 0.37; 95% confidence interval, 0.09-1.61; p = .18) or OS (hazard ratio, 2.06; 95% confidence interval, 0.71-6; p = .18). This remained true in the subgroups of patients with clinical Stage II or Stage III disease at diagnosis. A trend was seen toward poorer OS among patients who had not had a pathologic complete in-breast tumor response after NAC (hazard ratio, 6.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.82-54.12; p = .076).

Conclusions: The results from the present retrospective study showed no increase in the risk of distant metastasis, locoregional recurrence, or death when PMRT was omitted in breast cancer patients with pN0 status after NAC and mastectomy. Whether the omission of PMRT is acceptable for these patients should be addressed prospectively.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Axilla
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymph Node Excision
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Mastectomy, Simple
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasm Staging*
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome