Breast cancer in the elderly: The role of adjuvant radiation therapy

Patrizia Olmi, Carlo Fallai, Anna Maria Cerrotta, Laura Lozza, Donatella Badii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To evaluate available data on breast conserving surgery (BCS) with or without radiation therapy (RT), and alternative options (e.g. Tamoxifen alone) (Tam), focusing specifically on the older patients. Methods and materials: The MEDLINE was searched for the terms elderly, BCS, adjuvant/postoperative RT, Tamoxifen, and randomized trials from 1992 to 2002. Results: Authors reviewed papers of general interest on the elderly and breast cancer (BC), meta-analysis, randomized trials on BCS±RT and Tam±surgery without RT, retrospective non-randomized trials, and reported on prognostic factors for local recurrence in BCS alone, including biomarkers, attempts made to define a low-risk group, and methods of modification of the current, protracted standard adjuvant RT course. Conclusions: Postoperative RT after BCS has a firm rationale; in current clinical practice, if the BCS+RT is medically appropriate and the patient shares the choice, after a full information of the available options and their implications, it is clinically sound to propose this approach. However, there is controversy whether a subgroup of elderly patients could be safely spared: in this setting a randomized trial is clearly warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-178
Number of pages14
JournalCritical Reviews in Oncology/Hematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2003


  • Adjuvant radiation therapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Breast conserving surgery
  • Elderly
  • Tamoxifen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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