Background: In a phase 3, randomised, non-inferiority trial, accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) for patients with stage 0, I, and IIA breast cancer who underwent breast-conserving treatment was compared with whole-breast irradiation. Here, we present 5-year follow-up results.
Methods: We did a phase 3, randomised, non-inferiority trial at 16 hospitals and medical centres in seven European countries. 1184 patients with low-risk invasive and ductal carcinoma in situ treated with breast-conserving surgery were centrally randomised to either whole-breast irradiation or APBI using multicatheter brachytherapy. The primary endpoint was local recurrence. Analysis was done according to treatment received. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00402519.
Findings: Between April 20, 2004, and July 30, 2009, 551 patients had whole-breast irradiation with tumour-bed boost and 633 patients received APBI using interstitial multicatheter brachytherapy. At 5-year follow-up, nine patients treated with APBI and five patients receiving whole-breast irradiation had a local recurrence; the cumulative incidence of local recurrence was 1.44% (95% CI 0.51-2.38) with APBI and 0.92% (0.12-1.73) with whole-breast irradiation (difference 0.52%, 95% CI -0.72 to 1.75; p=0.42). No grade 4 late side-effects were reported. The 5-year risk of grade 2-3 late side-effects to the skin was 3.2% with APBI versus 5.7% with whole-breast irradiation (p=0.08), and 5-year risk of grade 2-3 subcutaneous tissue late side-effects was 7.6% versus 6.3% (p=0.53). The risk of severe (grade 3) fibrosis at 5 years was 0.2% with whole-breast irradiation and 0% with APBI (p=0.46).
Interpretation: The difference between treatments was below the relevance margin of 3 percentage points. Therefore, adjuvant APBI using multicatheter brachytherapy after breast-conserving surgery in patients with early breast cancer is not inferior to adjuvant whole-breast irradiation with respect to 5-year local control, disease-free survival, and overall survival.
Funding: German Cancer Aid.
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