Factors influencing cosmetic results after conservation therapy for breast cancer

Marie E. Taylor, Carlos A. Perez, Karen J. Halverson, Robert R. Kuske, Gordon W. Philpott, Delia M. Garcia, Joanne E. Mortimer, Robert J. Myerson, Diane Radford, Carol Rush

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    398 Scopus citations


    Purpose: Host, tumor, and treatment-related factors influencing cosmetic outcome are analyzed for patients receiving breast conservation treatment. Methods and Materials: Four-hundred and fifty-eight patients with evaluable records for cosmesis evaluation, a subset of 701 patients treated for invasive breast cancer with conservation technique between 1969 and 1990, were prospectively analyzed. In 243 patients, cosmetic evaluation was not adequately recorded. Cosmesis evaluation was carried out from 3.7 months to 22.3 years, median of 4.4 years. By pathologic stage, tumors were 62% T1N0, 14% T1N1, 15% T2N0, and 9% T2N1. The majority of patients were treated with 4-6 MV photons. Cosmetic evaluation was rated by both patient and physician every 4-6 months. A logistic regression analysis was completed using a stepwise logistic regression. P-values of 0.05 or less were considered significant. Excellent cosmetic scores were used in all statistical analyses unless otherwise specified. Results: At most recent follow-up, 87% of patients and 81% of physicians scored their cosmetic outcome as excellent or good. Eighty-two percent of physician and patient evaluations agreed with excellent-good vs. fair-poor rating categories. Analysis demonstrated a lower proportion of excellent cosmetic scores when related to patient age > 60 years (p = 0.001), postmenopausal status (p = 0.02), black race (p = 0.0034), and T2 tumor size (p = 0.05). Surgical factors of importance were: volume of resection > 100 cm3 (p = 0.0001), scar orientation compliance with the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast Project (NSABP) guidelines (p = 0.0034), and > 20 cm2 skin resected (p = 0.0452). Extent of axillary surgery did not significantly affect breast cosmesis. Radiation factors affecting cosmesis included treatment volume (tangential breast fields only vs. three or more fields) (p = 0.034), whole breast dose in excess of 50 Gy (p = 0.0243), and total dose to tumor site > 65 Gy (p = 0.06), as well as optimum dose distribution with compensating filters (p = 0.002). Daily fraction size of 1.8 Gy vs. 2.0 Gy, boost vs. no boost, type of boost (brachytherapy vs. electrons), total radiation dose, and use of bolus were not significant factors. Use of concomitant chemotherapy with irradiation impaired excellent cosmetic outcome (p = 0.02). Use of sequential chemotherapy or adjuvant tamoxifen did not appear to diminish excellent cosmetic outcomes (p = 0.31). Logistic regression for excellent cosmetic outcome analysis was completed for age, tumor size, menopausal status, race, type of surgery, volume of breast tissue resected, scar orientations, whole breast radiation dose, total radiation dose, number of radiation fields treated, and use of adjuvant chemotherapy. Significant independent factors for excellent cosmetic outcome were: volume of tissue resected (p = 0.0001), type of surgery (p = 0.0001), breast radiation dose (p = 0.005), race (p = 0.002), and age (p = 0.007). Conclusions: Satisfactory cosmesis was recorded in 81% of patients. Impaired cosmetic results are more likely with improper orientation of tylectomy and axillary incisions, larger volume of breast resection, radiation dose to the entire breast in excess of 50.0 Gy, and concurrent administration of chemotherapy. Careful selection of treatment procedures for specific patients/tumors and refinement in surgical/irradiation techniques will enhance the cosmetic results in breast conservation therapy.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)753-764
    Number of pages12
    JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Feb 15 1995


    • Breast conservation therapy
    • Chemotherapy
    • Cosmesis
    • Cosmetic result
    • Radiation techniques
    • Surgical techniques
    • Tamoxifen


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