- Radiation therapy (RT) is an important component of breast cancer treatment.
- RT reduces local recurrence and breast cancer mortality after breast conservation for all patients and for node-positive patients after a mastectomy.
- Short courses of RT over 3–4 weeks are generally as effective as longer courses.
- A patient subgroup where RT can be avoided after conservative surgery has not been consistently identified.
- A radiation boost reduces the risk of a recurrence in the breast but may be omitted for older patients with good prognosis tumours with clear margins.
- Axillary recurrences can take a long time to appear, with 35% occurring after 5 years.
- Leaving disease untreated in regional nodes is associated with reduced survival.
- Not all patients require radiation after neoadjuvant chemotherapy and a subsequent mastectomy.
- Modern RT equipment and techniques will further improve survival rates.
Publication of your online response is subject to the Medical Journal of Australia's editorial discretion. You will be notified by email within five working days should your response be accepted.