Purpose of review
This review is to provide an update on the current status of partial breast irradiation (PBI) for women presenting with early-stage breast cancer, as an alternate radiation technique to fractionated, whole breast radiation, following conservation surgery. As more women are asking for and receiving this treatment, both on and off protocols, understanding recent additions to the literature is important to physicians caring for this patient population.
Newly published retrospective studies, with follow-up times out to 10 years and the status of both recently completed and still open large prospective phase III trials will be covered, with emphasis on unexpected side effects reported, and some hypothesis-generating radiobiology observations. A recent consensus treatment guideline for PBI use is also discussed.
Selected retrospective studies continue to report outcomes matching those achieved with whole breast radiation; however, results from large prospective randomized trials comparing PBI to whole breast radiation have been reported only with short follow-up times, or in two studies, are still pending. A recent consensus guideline is useful at present in selecting patients for discussion of this treatment.