The optimization of postoperative radiotherapy in de novo stage IV breast cancer: evidence from real-world data to personalize treatment decisions

Sci Rep. 2023 Feb 18;13(1):2880. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-29888-z.


Prolonged survival of patients with stage IV breast cancer could change the role of radiotherapy for local control of breast primary, but its survival benefit remains unclear. Our aim is to investigate the survival benefit of radiotherapy in de novo stage IV breast cancer. Stage IV breast cancer patients who received breast surgery and have survived 12 months after diagnosis (landmark analysis) were included in the study from 2010 to 2015 of the National Cancer DataBase. Multivariable Cox models and a propensity score matching were used to control for confounding effects. Of 11,850 patients, 3629 (30.6%) underwent postoperative radiotherapy to breast or chest wall and 8221 (69.4%) did not. In multivariable analysis adjusting for multiple prognostic variables, postoperative radiotherapy was significantly associated with better survival (hazard ratio [HR] 0.74, 95% confidence interval [95%CI] 0.69-0.80; P < 0.001). Radiotherapy was associated with improved survival in patients with bone (P < 0.001) or lung metastasis (P = 0.014), but not in patients with liver (P = 0.549) or brain metastasis (P = 0.407). Radiotherapy was also associated with improved survival in patients with one (P < 0.001) or two metastatic sites (P = 0.028), but not in patients with three or more metastatic sites (P = 0.916). The survival impact of radiotherapy did not differ among subtypes. The results of survival analysis in the propensity score-matched sub-cohort were precisely consistent with those of multivariable analysis. These real-world data show that postoperative radiotherapy might improve overall survival for de novo Stage IV breast cancer with bone or lung metastasis, regardless of subtypes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Breast Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Breast Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Lung Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Mastectomy / methods
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Retrospective Studies