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July 1987

Mammary Carcinoma and Radiation Therapy

Author Affiliations

Los Angeles

Arch Surg. 1987;122(7):753. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1987.01400190019002

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The belief that irradiation of the breast following local removal of a carcinomatous mass is an alternative equal to mastectomy is based on certain assumptions—that radiation is "conservative," that surgery is "radical," that mammary carcinoma is radioresponsive if not radiosensitive, and that damage to the normal breast is inconsequential.

On the basis of 50 years of both clinical and experimental investigations of radiation effects on tissues and tumors and the study of mammary carcinoma since 1948 in a laboratory that has accumulated about 5000 cases of cancer of the breast in its files, I believe these assumptions are not necessarily correct.

My first acquaintance with the subject was as a research fellow at Harvard Medical School, Boston, in the laboratory of the late Dr Shields Warren, who used to show his trainees instances of radiation failure in carcinoma of the breast after both external and intramammary (radon seeds) treatment. Over

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