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What Is the Optimum Timing of Postmastectomy Radiotherapy in Two-Stage Prosthetic Reconstruction: Radiation to the Tissue Expander or Permanent Implant?

Cordeiro, Peter G. M.D.; Albornoz, Claudia R. M.D., M.Sc.; McCormick, Beryl M.D.; Hudis, Clifford A. M.D.; Hu, Qunying M.D.; Heerdt, Alexandra M.D., M.P.H.; Matros, Evan M.D., M.M.Sc.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: June 2015 - Volume 135 - Issue 6 - p 1509–1517
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000001278
Breast: Original Articles
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Background: Postmastectomy radiotherapy is increasingly common for patients with advanced breast cancer. The optimal timing and sequence of mastectomy, reconstruction, and radiotherapy remains unresolved for patients choosing immediate two-stage prosthetic reconstruction.

Methods: Long-term outcomes were compared for all patients with prosthetic-based reconstruction without radiation, radiation to the tissue expander, or to the permanent implant from 2003 to 2012 performed by the senior author (P.G.C.). Surgeon-evaluated outcomes included reconstructive failure, aesthetic results, and capsular contracture. Odds of failure with radiotherapy at different times were evaluated with logistic regression and Kaplan-Meier analysis. Patient-reported outcomes were assessed using the BREAST-Q.

Results: A total of 1486 reconstructions without radiation, 94 reconstructions with tissue expander radiation, and 210 reconstructions with permanent implant radiation were included. Six-year predicted failure rates were greater for patients with tissue expander radiation than for patients with permanent implant radiation (32 percent versus 16.4 percent; p < 0.01). Patients undergoing radiation to the tissue expander had a greater proportion of very good to excellent aesthetic results compared to patients with permanent implant radiation (75.0 percent versus 67.6 percent; p < 0.01) and lower rates of grade IV capsular contracture (p < 0.01). BREAST-Q scores were similar for patients with the different radiation timings.

Conclusions: Although the risk of reconstructive failure is significantly higher for patients with tissue expander radiation compared to patients with permanent implant radiation, the aesthetic results and capsular contracture rates are slightly better. Patient reported outcomes do not differ between patients with tissue expander or permanent implant radiation.


New York, N.Y.

From the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgical Service, Radiation Oncology, Breast Cancer Medical Service, and Breast Surgical Service, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Received for publication June 24, 2014; accepted December 15, 2014.

The first two authors contributed equally to this work.

Disclosure: Dr. Cordeiro received financial and material support from Allergan, Inc., for participation in a multicenter clinical research study. The other authors have no financial interest to declare in relation to the content of this article.

Peter G. Cordeiro, M.D., Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, Suite MRI-1007, New York, N.Y. 10065

©2015American Society of Plastic Surgeons