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Adjuvant radiation therapy for women with newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer

Jennifer F De Los Santos, MD
Section Editors
Daniel F Hayes, MD
David E Wazer, MD
Deputy Editor
Sadhna R Vora, MD


Globally, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed and the leading cause of cancer death in women. For women with newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer, treatment consists of a multidisciplinary approach that involves input from surgery, radiation oncology, and medical oncology.

The objective of adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) is to eradicate any tumor deposits remaining following surgery for patients treated by either breast-conserving surgery or mastectomy [1]. Doing so reduces risk of locoregional recurrence (LRR) and improves breast cancer-specific and overall survivals.

This topic will review the role of adjuvant RT. Other aspects of the management of women with newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer are covered separately. (See "Overview of the treatment of newly diagnosed, non-metastatic breast cancer".)


Approach — For most women treated with breast-conserving surgery, we administer whole breast radiation therapy (WBRT). This includes women treated with neoadjuvant therapy, even if they experienced a complete response to treatment.

As discussed below, adjuvant WBRT reduces the risks of recurrence and breast cancer death. (See 'Whole breast radiation therapy' below.)


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Oct 7, 2016.
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