Outcomes with Partial Breast Irradiation vs. Whole Breast Irradiation: a Meta-Analysis

Ann Surg Oncol. 2021 Jan 3. doi: 10.1245/s10434-020-09447-w. Online ahead of print.


Background: Several randomized trials have been performed comparing partial breast irradiation (PBI) and whole breast irradiation (WBI) though controversy remains, including regarding differences by PBI technique. We performed a meta-analysis to compare results between WBI versus PBI and between PBI techniques.

Methods: A systematic review was performed to identify modern randomized studies listed in MEDLINE from 2005 to 2020. PBI trials were divided into external beam radiation and brachytherapy techniques, with intraoperative radiation excluded. A Bayesian logistic regression model evaluated the risk of ipsilateral breast tumor recurrence (IBTR) and acute and chronic toxicities. The primary outcome was IBTR at 5 years with WBI compared with PBI.

Results: A total of 9758 patients from 7 studies were included (4840-WBI, 4918-PBI). At 5 years, no statistically significant difference in the rate of IBTR was noted between PBI (1.8%, 95% HPD 0.68-3.2%) and WBI (1.7%, 95% HPD 0.92-2.4%). By PBI technique, the 5-year rate of IBTR rate for external beam was 1.7% and 2.2% for brachytherapy. Rates of grade 2 + acute toxicity were 7.1% with PBI versus 47.5% with WBI. For late toxicities, grade 2/3 rates were 0%/0% with PBI compared with 1.0%/0% with WBI.

Conclusions: IBTR rates were similar between PBI and WBI with no significant differences noted by PBI technique; PBI had reduced acute toxicities compared to WBI. Because studies did not provide toxicity data in a consistent fashion, definitive conclusions cannot be made with additional data from randomized trials needed to compare toxicity profiles between PBI techniques.