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Open Access Debate

Exclusive and adjuvant radiotherapy in breast cancer patients with synchronous metastases

Romuald Le Scodan1*, David Ali1 and Denise Stevens2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Institut Curie Hôpital René Huguenin, Saint Cloud, France

2 Medical Statistics, Institut Curie Hôpital René Huguenin, Saint Cloud, France

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BMC Cancer 2010, 10:630  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-10-630

Published: 17 November 2010

Abstract

Background

Data from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results program and the European Concerted Action on survival and Care of Cancer Patients (EUROCARE) project indicate that about 6% of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer have stage IV disease, representing about 12 600 new cases per year in the United States in 2005. Historically, local therapy of the primary tumor in this setting has been aimed solely at symptom palliation. However, several studies suggest that surgical excision of the primary tumor can prolong these patients' survival.

Discussion

Exclusive locoregional radiotherapy is an alternative form of locoregional treatment in this setting and may represent an effective alternative to surgery in this setting. Here we discuss current issues regarding exclusive and adjuvant locoregional radiotherapy in breast cancer patients with synchronous metastases.

Summary

Several studies suggest that surgery or exclusive irradiation of the primary tumor is associated with better survival in breast cancer patients with synchronous metastases and that exclusive locoregional radiotherapy may represent an effective alternative to surgery in this setting. Results of well-designed prospective studies are needed to re-evaluate treatment of the primary breast tumor in patients with metastases at diagnosis, and to identify those patients who are most likely to benefit.