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Sequencing chemotherapy and radiotherapy in locoregional advanced breast cancer patients after mastectomy – a retrospective analysis

Author(s): Piroth Marc | Pinkawa Michael | Gagel Bernd | Stanzel Sven | Asadpour Branka | Eble Michael

Journal: BMC Cancer
ISSN 1471-2407

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 114;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Combined chemo- and radiotherapy are established in breast cancer treatment. Chemotherapy is recommended prior to radiotherapy but decisive data on the optimal sequence are rare. This retrospective analysis aimed to assess the role of sequencing in patients after mastectomy because of advanced locoregional disease. Methods A total of 212 eligible patients had a stage III breast cancer and had adjuvant chemotherapy and radiotherapy after mastectomy and axillary dissection between 1996 and 2004. According to concerted multi-modality treatment strategies 86 patients were treated sequentially (chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy) (SEQgroup), 70 patients had a sandwich treatment (SW-group) and 56 patients had simultaneous chemoradiation (SIM-group) during that time period. Radiotherapy comprised the thoracic wall and/or regional lymph nodes. The total dose was 45–50.4 Gray. As simultaneous chemoradiation CMF was given in 95.4% of patients while in sequential or sandwich application in 86% and 87.1% of patients an anthracycline-based chemotherapy was given. Results Concerning the parameters nodal involvement, lymphovascular invasion, extracapsular spread and extension of the irradiated region the three treatment groups were significantly imbalanced. The other parameters, e.g. age, pathological tumor stage, grading and receptor status were homogeneously distributed. Looking on those two groups with an equally effective chemotherapy (EC, FEC), the SEQ- and SW-group, the sole imbalance was the extension of LVI (57.1 vs. 25.6%, p < 0.0001). 5-year overall- and disease free survival were 53.2%/56%, 38.1%/32% and 64.2%/50%, for the sequential, sandwich and simultaneous regime, respectively, which differed significantly in the univariate analysis (p = 0.04 and p = 0.03, log-rank test). Also the 5-year locoregional or distant recurrence free survival showed no significant differences according to the sequence of chemo- and radiotherapy. In the multivariate analyses the sequence had no independent impact on overall survival (p = 0.2) or disease free survival (p = 0.4). The toxicity, whether acute nor late, showed no significant differences in the three groups. The grade III/IV acute side effects were 3.6%, 0% and 3.5% for the SIM-, SW- and SEQ-group. By tendency the SIM regime had more late side effects. Conclusion No clear advantage can be stated for any radio- and chemotherapy sequence in breast cancer therapy so far. This could be confirmed in our retrospective analysis in high-risk patients after mastectomy. The sequential approach is recommended according to current guidelines considering a lower toxicity.
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