Radiation to Lymph Nodes in Chest Seen to Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes at 15 Years with Little Added Risk

Radiation to Lymph Nodes in Chest Seen to Improve Breast Cancer Outcomes at 15 Years with Little Added Risk
Applying radiation therapy to lymph nodes behind the breast bone and above the collar bone can improve outcomes for earlier-stage breast cancer patients, with limited side effects, Phase 3 long-term data show. Data found that 15 years after such treatment, 73.2 percent of patients given this more extensive radiation were alive, compared to 70.8 percent of those who underwent standard of care. The research, "Fifteen-year results of the randomised EORTC trial 22922/10925 investigating internal mammary and medial supraclavicular (IM-MS) lymph node irradiation in stage I-III breast cancer," was presented at the ongoing 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting, in Chicago. Women with breast cancer are at risk of having their disease spread to the lymph nodes, and from there elsewhere in the body. While lymph nodes in the axilla (armpit) are the most commonly affected, and are usually treated with surgery or radiation, the cancer may spread into lymph nodes behind the breast bone — called internal mammary (IM) lymph nodes – and then to those above the collar bone – called medial supraclavicular (MS) lymph nodes. While IM-MS nodes can be treated with radiation therapy, concerns about the side effects of increasing the radiation area to the chest has limited such use. In an attempt to settle this question, investigators designed a clinical trial that assessed the long-term outcomes in women receiving radiation to their IM-MS lymph nodes compared to a control group that did not. The trial (
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