Author(s): Bajrovic A, Rades D, Fehlauer F, Tribius S, Hoeller U,
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Abstract BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: To contribute to the question whether the risk of radiation-related brachial plexopathy increases, remains constant or decreases with time after treatment. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Between 12/80 and 9/93, 140 breast cancer patients received supraclavicular lymph node irradiation using a telecobalt unit. Total dose was 60 with 3Gy per fraction at a depth of 0.5 cm and 52 with 2.6Gy per fraction to the brachial plexus at a depth of 3 cm. Twenty-eight women received chemotherapy, 34 tamoxifen. Brachial plexopathy was graded using a modified LENT-SOMA score. Actuarial complication-free survival and overall survival were obtained from Kaplan-Meier analysis. The impact of chemotherapy or tamoxifen was tested using the chi2 test. The annual incidence of radiation-related brachial plexopathy was assessed by exponential regression as described by Jung et al. [Radiother Oncol 61 (2001) 233]. RESULTS: Actuarial overall survival was 67.1\% after 5 years, 54.0\% after 10 years, 49.9\% after 15 years, and 44.0\% after 20 years. In 19/140 patients, brachial plexopathy grade>/=1 occurred after a median interval of 88 (30-217) months. The percentage of patients being free from plexopathy was 96.1\% after 5 years, 75.5\% after 10 years, 72.1\% after 15 years, and 46.0\% after 19 years, respectively. A significant impact of type of surgery, chemotherapy or tamoxifen was not observed. The annual incidence of brachial plexopathy was 2.9\% for grade>/=1 lesions and 0.8\% for grade>/=3 lesions. The rates did not change significantly with time. CONCLUSIONS: The risk of brachial plexopathy after supraclavicular lymph node irradiation in breast cancer patients remains constant for a considerable portion of the patient's life.
This article was published in Radiother Oncol
and referenced in Atherosclerosis: Open Access