Public Release: 

Breast conserving treatment an option for women with implants

Findings challenge previous studies encouraging mastectomies for these women

American Society for Radiation Oncology

Breast conserving surgery followed by radiation therapy is a good option for women with early-stage breast cancer who have breast implants, according to a study presented October 16, 2005, at the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology's 47th Annual Meeting in Denver.

The new findings challenge past studies that showed delivering radiation to a breast with an implant in place causes significant problems in the implant, resulting in poor cosmetic results.

"Past research was based on a small sample of patients and older radiation techniques," said Rosalyn Morrell, M.D., lead author of this Mayo Clinic study. "Therefore, we investigated a larger group of women treated with radiation using newer techniques that refuted the reports of poor cosmetic outcome among patients."

Most women with early-stage breast cancer are able to undergo breast conservation surgery to keep their breast after treatment. Typically, this means that they first have surgery to remove the cancer (a lumpectomy), followed by a course of radiation therapy to kill any cancer cells that may remain. This approach is just as effective as a mastectomy in treating the cancer and is preferred by many women.

More women today are opting to have cosmetic breast implants. As women age, their risk of breast cancer increases, so a fraction of these women will eventually develop breast cancer. These are the patients who would be most interested in preserving their breasts and avoiding mastectomy.

Between 1994 and 2004, researchers reviewed the records of 26 breast cancer patients with previously augmented breasts who were treated with breast conservation surgery and radiation at the Mayo Clinic. All patients had their implants in place before their breast cancer diagnosis. Eighty-five percent of patients followed over a three-year period had favorable cosmetic results following radiation therapy. None of the patients in the study suffered a relapse of their cancer.

For more information on radiation therapy for breast cancer, please visit

The study, "Results of Primary Radiation Therapy for Breast Cancer in Cosmetically Augmented Patients" will be available for poster viewing starting at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, October 16, 2005. If you would like a copy of the abstract, or would like to speak to the lead author of the study, Rosalyn Morrell, M.D., please call Beth Bukata or Nick Lashinsky October 16-20 in the ASTRO Press Room at the Colorado Convention Center at 303-288-8454 or 303-228-8455. You may also e-mail them at or


ASTRO is the largest radiation oncology society in the world, with more than 8,000 members who specialize in treating patients with radiation therapies. As a leading organization in radiation oncology, biology and physics, the Society is dedicated to the advancement of the practice of radiation oncology by promoting excellence in patient care, providing opportunities for educational and professional development, promoting research and disseminating research results and representing radiation oncology in a rapidly evolving socioeconomic healthcare environment.

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