The article by Lipsztein et al1 entitled "Sequelae of Breast Irradiation" is most timely. Recently, the public and medical profession have been exposed to a number of enthusiastic articles regarding the place of lumpectomy, axillary dissection, and radiation therapy to the remaining breast as the treatment of choice for early breast cancer. Unfortunately, the most widely publicized of these papers reports five-year survival data based on actuarial statistics with median follow-up of only 39 months.2 This short interval is inadequate for proper evaluation of a treatment protocol for management of breast cancer. It is hoped that certain categories of patients with small early breast cancers and clear axillae eventually will prove to do as well following wide local excision, axillary dissection, and radiation therapy as they have done following modified mastectomy. Long-term observed follow-up will answer this question satisfactorily.
Patients should be informed of the potential complications of
Urban JA. Sequelae of Breast Irradiation. JAMA. 1985;253(24):3589. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350480097028