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Aim: Whole-breast radiotherapy (WBRT) after conservative surgery for early breast cancer is a routine standard of care. Despite this, a number of uncertainties in management still exist. Over recent years, a number of new technologies have allowed the development of partial-breast irradiation, with the intention of improving the risk-benefit relationship of routine breast radiotherapy. We report the results of a trial comparing partial- with WBRT, with prolonged follow-up. Materials and methods: Between 1986 and 1990, 174 women were randomised to receive conventional whole-breast radiotherapy (WBRT) (40 Gy in 15 fractions), with a tumour-bed boost or partial-breast irradiation by a variety of techniques. Recruitment was problematic, and the trial closed prematurely well before meeting its recruitment target. Results: A trend was observed towards higher local recurrence and a higher locoregional recurrence rate after irradiation of the tumour bed alone. Distant recurrence and survival were the same. Conclusions: Conclusions are limited in view of the failure to complete accrual of the target of 400 participants, and in the context of the techniques of partial-breast radiotherapy used during this study, which would not compare with those in current use. Tumour-bed irradiation alone cannot currently be recommended as routine treatment outside the context of clinical trial. © 2005 The Royal College of Radiologists. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Clinical Oncology

Publication Date





618 - 622