Long-term survival outcomes following internal mammary node irradiation in stage II-III breast cancer: Results of a large retrospective study with 12-year follow-up

Jee Suk Chang, Won Park, Yong Bae Kim, Ik Jae Lee, Ki Chang Keum, Chang Geol Lee, Doo Ho Choi, Chang Ok Suh, Seung Jae Huh

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Purpose: To examine the effect of internal mammary node irradiation (IMNI) on disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS) in breast cancer patients treated with modified radical mastectomy and postoperative radiation therapy. Methods and Materials: Between 1994 and 2002, 396 patients with stage II-III breast cancer were treated with postmastectomy radiation therapy with (n=197) or without (n=199) IMNI. Patients who received neoadjuvant chemotherapy were excluded. IMNI was administered at the clinical discretion of the treating physician. Median RT dose was 50.4 Gy (range, 45.0-59.4 Gy) in 28 fractions, with inclusion of the supraclavicular fossa in 96% of patients. Adjuvant chemotherapy was administered to 99.7% of the patients and endocrine therapy to 53%. Results: The median follow-up was 149 months (range, 124-202). IMNI patients had more advanced nodal stage and non-high grade tumors than those without IMNI (P<.001). Otherwise, disease and treatment characteristics were well balanced. The 10-year DFS with and without IMNI was 65% and 57%, respectively (P=.05). Multivariate analysis demonstrated that IMNI was an independent, positive predictor of DFS (hazard ratio [HR], 0.70; P=.02). Benefits of IMNI in DFS were seen most apparently in N2 patients (HR, 0.44; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.26-0.74) and inner/central tumors (HR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.34-0.90). The 10-year OS with and without IMNI was 72% and 66%, respectively (P=.62). The 10-year DFS and OS were 61%, and 69%, respectively. Conclusions: Internal mammary node irradiation significantly improved DFS in postmastectomy breast cancer patients. Pending long-term results from randomized trials, treatment of internal mammary nodes should be considered in postmastectomy radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-872
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Aug 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research

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