Patterns of practice of regional nodal irradiation in breast cancer: Results of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) NOdal Radiotherapy (NORA) survey

Breast Working Party of the EORTC Radiation Oncology Group (ROG)

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Background: Predicting outcome of breast cancer (BC) patients based on sentinel lymph node (SLN) status without axillary lymph node dissection (ALND) is an area of uncertainty. It influences the decision-making for regional nodal irradiation (RNI). The aim of the NORA (NOdal RAdiotherapy) survey was to examine the patterns of RNI. Methods: A web-questionnaire, including several clinical scenarios, was distributed to 88 EORTC-affiliated centers. Responses were received between July 2013 and January 2014. Results: A total of 84 responses were analyzed. While three-dimensional (3D) radiotherapy (RT) planning is carried out in 81 (96%) centers, nodal areas are delineated in only 51 (61%) centers. Only 14 (17%) centers routinely link internal mammary chain (IMC) and supraclavicular node (SCN) RT indications. In patients undergoing total mastectomy (TM) with ALND, SCN-RT is recommend by 5 (6%), 53 (63%) and 51 (61%) centers for patients with pN0(i+), pN(mi) and pN1, respectively. Extra-capsular extension (ECE) is the main factor influencing decision-making RNI after breast conserving surgery (BCS) and TM. After primary systemic therapy (PST), 49 (58%) centers take into account nodal fibrotic changes in ypN0 patients for RNI indications. In ypN0 patients with inner/central tumors, 23 (27%) centers indicate SCN-RT and IMC-RT. In ypN1 patients, SCN-RT is delivered by less than half of the centers in patients with ypN(i+) and ypN(mi). Twenty-one (25%) of the centers recommend ALN-RT in patients with ypN(mi) or 1-2N+ after ALND. Seventy-five (90%) centers state that age is not considered a limiting factor for RNI. Conclusion: The NORA survey is unique in evaluating the impact of SLNB/ALND status on adjuvant RNI decisionmaking and volumes after BCS/TM with or without PST. ALN-RT is often indicated in pN1 patients, particularly in the case of ECE. Besides the ongoing NSABP-B51/RTOG and ALLIANCE trials, NORA could help to design future specific RNI trials in the SLNB era without ALND in patients receiving or not PST.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-535
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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