The reported incidence of local recurrence after mastectomy for locally advanced breast cancer (TNM Stage III and IV) is between 30% and 50%. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of radiation therapy (XRT) followed by total mastectomy on the incidence of local recurrence in patients with locally advanced breast cancer. Fifty-three patients who presented with locally advanced breast cancer, without distant metastases, were treated with XRT (4500-5000 R) to the breast, chest wall, and regional lymph nodes. Five weeks after completion of XRT, total mastectomy was performed. There were no operative deaths. The complications that occurred in 22 patients after surgery were flap necrosis, wound infection, and seroma. Patients have been followed from 3 to 134 months. Twenty-five patients are alive (3-134 months), 12 free of disease; 28 patients have died with distant metastases (6-67 months). Isolated local recurrence occurred in only two patients. Four patients had local and distant recurrence (total local recurrence is 6/53). The remaining patients all developed distant metastases. We have devised a treatment strategy which significantly decreases the incidence of local recurrence in patients with locally advanced breast cancer. However, the rapid appearance of distant metastases emphasizes the need for systemically active therapy in patients with locally advanced breast cancer.
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