Clinical Research Papers:

Re-irradiation for locally recurrent refractory breast cancer

Tomas Merino, William T. Tran and Gregory J. Czarnota _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:35051-35062. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6036

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Tomas Merino1,2,3, William T. Tran1 and Gregory J. Czarnota1,2

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada

3 Departamento de Hemato-Oncologia, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

Correspondence to:

Gregory J. Czarnota, email:

Keywords: breast cancer, radiotherapy, re-irradiation, recurrent, refractory breast cancer

Received: May 25, 2015 Accepted: August 31, 2015 Published: October 08, 2015


Purpose: To report an analysis of treatment outcomes of a cohort of patients re-irradiated for locally recurrent refractory breast cancer (LRRBC)

Patients and Methods: Between 2008 and 2013, 47 women (mean age = 60 years) were re-irradiated for LRRBC. Outcomes were measured using Kaplan-Meier log rank to compare curves and Cox regression for multivariate analysis. Outcomes included overall survival (OS), time to re-treatment, survival without systemic progression, and survival without local recurrence.

Results: Fifty-six instances of re-irradiation were completed and analyzed. The mean cumulative 2 Gy equivalent dose (EQD2) to the whole breast and tumour cavity (α/β = 3) was 99.8 Gy and 109.1 Gy, respectively. Most patients initially had significant symptoms before RT due to local recurrence. The median time to re-treatment and to systemic failure was 41 and 50 months, respectively. Median follow-up for OS was 17 months and OS was 0.73 (SE = 0.07) at 1 year and 0.67 (SE = 0.07) at 2 years. Local control was 0.62 (SE = 0.07) and 0.5 (0.08) at 1 and 2 years, respectively. Acute radiation dermatitis was G1-2, G3 and G4 in 45, 4 and 1 cases, respectively. One patient presented with necrosis. The most common long term toxicity was G3 fibrosis (n = 4) and telangiectatic changes (n = 3). Multivariable analysis indicated that skin involvement (Hazard Ratio = 6.6 (1.4-31), p = 0.016) and time to local recurrence <2yr (HR 3.1 (1.04-9.7) p = 0.042) predicted local recurrence.

Conclusion: High dose re-irradiation is feasible for locally RRBC. This approach can have a significant benefit in this very high-risk group.

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