Purpose: To evaluate the efficacy of irradiation of internal mammary nodes (IMN) on 10-year overall survival in breast cancer patients after mastectomy.
Methods and patients: This multicenter phase 3 study enrolled patients with positive axillary nodes (pN+) or central/medial tumors with or without pN+. Other inclusion criteria were age <75 and a Karnofsky index ≥70. All patients received postoperative irradiation of the chest wall and supraclavicular nodes and were randomly assigned to receive IMN irradiation or not. Randomization was stratified by tumor location (medial/central or lateral), axillary lymph node status, and adjuvant therapy (chemotherapy vs no chemotherapy). The prescribed dose of irradiation to the target volumes was 50 Gy or equivalent. The first 5 intercostal spaces were included in the IMN target volume, and two-thirds of the dose (31.5 Gy) was given by electrons. The primary outcome was overall survival at 10 years. Disease-free survival and toxicity were secondary outcomes.
Results: T total of 1334 patients were analyzed after a median follow-up of 11.3 years among the survivors. No benefit of IMN irradiation on the overall survival could be demonstrated: the 10-year overall survival was 59.3% in the IMN-nonirradiated group versus 62.6% in the IMN-irradiated group (P=.8). According to stratification factors, we defined 6 subgroups (medial/central or lateral tumor, pN0 [only for medial/central] or pN+, and chemotherapy or not). In all these subgroups, IMN irradiation did not significantly improve overall survival.
Conclusions: In patients treated with 2-dimensional techniques, we failed to demonstrate a survival benefit for IMN irradiation. This study cannot rule out a moderate benefit, especially with more modern, conformal techniques applied to a higher risk population.
Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.