The new findings challenge past studies that showed delivering radiation to a breast with an implant in place causes significant problems in the implant, resulting in poor cosmetic results.
"Past research was based on a small sample of patients and older radiation techniques," said Rosalyn Morrell, M.D., lead author of this Mayo Clinic study. "Therefore, we investigated a larger group of women treated with radiation using newer techniques that refuted the reports of poor cosmetic outcome among patients."
Most women with early-stage breast cancer are able to undergo breast conservation surgery to keep their breast after treatment. Typically, this means that they first have surgery to remove the cancer (a lumpectomy), followed by a course of radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain. This approach is just as effective as a mastectomy in treating the cancer and is preferred by many women.
More women today are opting to have cosmetic breast implants. As women age, their risk of breast cancer increases, so a fraction of these women will eventually develop breast cancer. These are the patients who would be most interested in preserving their breasts and avoiding mastectomy.
Between 1994 and 2004, researchers reviewed the records of 26 breast cancer patients with previously augmented breasts who were treated with breast conservation surgery and radiation at the Mayo Clinic. All patients had their implants in place before their breast cancer diagnosis. Eighty-five percent of patients followed over a three-year period had favorable cosmetic results following radiation therapy. None of the patients in the study suffered a relapse of the
Contact: Beth Bukata
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology