Radiation therapy, which is standard treatment for many breast cancers, may be especially important for triple-negative breast cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer, by definition estrogen-receptor, progesterone-receptor and HER2 negative, does not have as many treatment options as other breast cancers. Hormonal therapy and Herceptin (trastuzumab) for HER2 positive cancer are not effective.
Two recent studies highlighted the importance of radiation for triple-negative breast cancer.
Lumpectomy plus radiation better than mastectomy alone
A July 20 study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women with small, node-negative, triple-negative breast cancer treated with mastectomy alone had a "significant increased risk" of local-regional recurrence compared to women treated with lumpectomy (breast conserving surgery) plus radiation. The authors noted that future studies are warranted to investigate the benefit of radiation after mastectomy in triple-negative breast cancer.
After mastectomy, chemotherapy plus radiation better than chemotherapy alone
Almost on cue, an August 16 study in Radiotherapy and Oncology evaluated the benefit of radiation after mastectomy in triple-negative breast cancer. (Link may be found on the postmastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) page of our website.)
For women with early-stage triple-negative breast cancer treated with a mastectomy, chemotherapy plus radiation was "more effective" than chemotherapy alone. Recurrence rates and overall survival rates were significantly better in the group treated with radiation.
In both studies, women with triple-negative breast cancer treated with radiation fared better than those not treated with radiation.
Triple-negative breast cancer is a special situation. At our LATESTBreastCancer.com website, subscribers may create a profile based on their personal diagnosis to see the latest breast cancer news and research applicable to them. Our goal is to make internet research more efficient, and less overwhelming, for women with breast cancer.