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1.  Health-related quality of life in survivors of stage I-II breast cancer: randomized trial of post-operative conventional radiotherapy and hypofractionated tomotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:495.
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) assessment is a key component of clinical oncology trials. However, few breast cancer trials comparing adjuvant conventional radiotherapy (CR) and hypofractionated tomotherapy (TT) have investigated HRQOL. We compared HRQOL in stage I-II breast cancer patients who were randomized to receive either CR or TT. Tomotherapy uses an integrated computed tomography scanner to improve treatment accuracy, aiming to reduce the adverse effects of radiotherapy.
A total of 121 stage I–II breast cancer patients who had undergone breast conserving surgery (BCS) or mastectomy (MA) were randomly assigned to receive either CR or TT. CR patients received 25 × 2 Gy over 5 weeks, and BCS patients also received a sequential boost of 8 × 2 Gy over 2 weeks. TT patients received 15 × 2.8 Gy over 3 weeks, and BCS patients also received a simultaneous integrated boost of 15 × 0.6 Gy over 3 weeks. Patients completed the EORTC QLQ-C30 and BR23 questionnaires. The mean score (± standard error) was calculated at baseline, the end of radiotherapy, and at 3 months and 1, 2, and 3 years post-radiotherapy. Data were analyzed by the 'intention-to-treat' principle.
On the last day of radiotherapy, patients in both treatment arms had decreased global health status and functioning scores; increased fatigue (clinically meaningful in both treatment arms), nausea and vomiting, and constipation; decreased arm symptoms; clinically meaningful increased breast symptoms in CR patients and systemic side effects in TT patients; and slightly decreased body image and future perspective.
At 3 months post-radiotherapy, TT patients had a clinically significant increase in role- and social-functioning scores and a clinically significant decrease in fatigue. The post-radiotherapy physical-, cognitive- and emotional-functioning scores improved faster in TT patients than CR patients. TT patients also had a better long-term recovery from fatigue than CR patients. ANOVA with the Bonferroni correction did not show any significant differences between groups in HRQOL scores.
TT patients had a better improvement in global health status and role- and cognitive-functioning, and a faster recovery from fatigue, than CR patients. These results suggest that a shorter fractionation schedule may reduce the adverse effects of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3492203  PMID: 23098579
Health-related quality of life; Breast cancer; Hypofractionated radiotherapy; Adjuvant treatment; Randomized trial
2.  Early Contralateral Shoulder-Arm Morbidity in Breast Cancer Patients Enrolled in a Randomized Trial of Post-Surgery Radiation Therapy 
Shoulder/arm morbidity is a common complication of breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy (RT), but little is known about acute contralateral morbidity.
Patients were 118 women enrolled in a RT trial. Arm volume and shoulder mobility were assessed before and 1–3 months after RT. Correlations and linear regression were used to analyze changes affecting ipsilateral and contralateral arms, and changes affecting relative interlimb differences (RID).
Changes affecting one limb correlated with changes affecting the other limb. Arm volume between the two limbs correlated (R = 0.57). Risk factors were weight increase and axillary dissection. Contralateral and ipsilateral loss of abduction strongly correlated (R = 0.78). Changes of combined RID exceeding 10% affected the ipsilateral limb in 25% of patients, and the contralateral limb in 18%. Aromatase inhibitor therapy was significantly associated with contralateral loss of abduction.
High incidence of early contralateral arm morbidity warrants further investigations.
PMCID: PMC3418149  PMID: 22904635
early breast cancer; short-course radiation therapy; image-guided radiation therapy; shoulder/arm morbidity; breast cancer-related lymphedema
3.  Scapula alata in early breast cancer patients enrolled in a randomized clinical trial of post-surgery short-course image-guided radiotherapy 
Scapula alata (SA) is a known complication of breast surgery associated with palsy of the serratus anterior, but it is seldom mentioned. We evaluated the risk factors associated with SA and the relationship of SA with ipsilateral shoulder/arm morbidity in a series of patients enrolled in a trial of post-surgery radiotherapy (RT).
The trial randomized women with completely resected stage I-II breast cancer to short-course image-guided RT, versus conventional RT. SA, arm volume and shoulder-arm mobility were measured prior to RT and at one to three months post-RT. Shoulder/arm morbidities were computed as a post-RT percentage change relative to pre-RT measurements.
Of 119 evaluable patients, 13 (= 10.9%) had pre-RT SA. Age younger than 50 years old, a body mass index less than 25 kg/m2, and axillary lymph node dissection were significant risk factors, with odds ratios of 4.8 (P = 0.009), 6.1 (P = 0.016), and 6.1 (P = 0.005), respectively. Randomization group was not significant. At one to three months’ post-RT, mean arm volume increased by 4.1% (P = 0.036) and abduction decreased by 8.6% (P = 0.046) among SA patients, but not among non-SA patients. SA resolved in eight, persisted in five, and appeared in one patient.
The relationship of SA with lower body mass index suggests that SA might have been underestimated in overweight patients. Despite apparent resolution of SA in most patients, pre-RT SA portended an increased risk of shoulder/arm morbidity. We argue that SA warrants further investigation. Incidentally, the observation of SA occurring after RT in one patient represents the second case of post-RT SA reported in the literature.
PMCID: PMC3488523  PMID: 22591589
Breast cancer; Surgery; Radiation treatment; Complications; Winged scapula; Scapular winging; Long thoracic nerve; Multiple outcomes; Shoulder/arm morbidity; Lymphedema
4.  Modeling the effect of age in T1-2 breast cancer using the SEER database 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:130.
Modeling the relationship between age and mortality for breast cancer patients may have important prognostic and therapeutic implications.
Data from 9 registries of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) of the United States were used. This study employed proportional hazards to model mortality in women with T1-2 breast cancers. The residuals of the model were used to examine the effect of age on mortality. This procedure was applied to node-negative (N0) and node-positive (N+) patients. All causes mortality and breast cancer specific mortality were evaluated.
The relationship between age and mortality is biphasic. For both N0 and N+ patients among the T1-2 group, the analysis suggested two age components. One component is linear and corresponds to a natural increase of mortality with each year of age. The other component is quasi-quadratic and is centered around age 50. This component contributes to an increased risk of mortality as age increases beyond 50. It suggests a hormonally related process: the farther from menopause in either direction, the more prognosis is adversely influenced by the quasi-quadratic component. There is a complex relationship between hormone receptor status and other prognostic factors, like age.
The present analysis confirms the findings of many epidemiological and clinical trials that the relationship between age and mortality is biphasic. Compared with older patients, young women experience an abnormally high risk of death. Among elderly patients, the risk of death from breast cancer does not decrease with increasing age. These facts are important in the discussion of options for adjuvant treatment with breast cancer patients.
PMCID: PMC1277821  PMID: 16212670
5.  Ratios of involved nodes in early breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research  2004;6(6):R680-R688.
The number of lymph nodes found to be involved in an axillary dissection is among the most powerful prognostic factors in breast cancer, but it is confounded by the number of lymph nodes that have been examined. We investigate an idea that has surfaced recently in the literature (since 1999), namely that the proportion of node-positive lymph nodes (or a function thereof) is a much better predictor of survival than the number of excised and node-positive lymph nodes, alone or together.
The data were abstracted from 83,686 cases registered in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program of women diagnosed with nonmetastatic T1–T2 primary breast carcinoma between 1988 and 1997, in whom axillary node dissection was performed. The end-point was death from breast cancer. Cox models based on different expressions of nodal involvement were compared using the Nagelkerke R2 index (R2N). Ratios were modeled as percentage and as log odds of involved nodes. Log odds were estimated in a way that avoids singularities (zero values) by using the empirical logistic transform.
In node-negative cases both the number of nodes excised and the log odds were significant, with hazard ratios of 0.991 (95% confidence interval 0.986–0.997) and 1.150 (1.058–1.249), respectively, but without improving R2N. In node-positive cases the hazard ratios were 1.003–1.088 for the number of involved nodes, 0.966–1.005 for the number of excised nodes, 1.015–1.017 for the percentage, and 1.344–1.381 for the log odds. R2N improved from 0.067 (no nodal covariate) to 0.102 (models based on counts only) and to 0.108 (models based on ratios).
Ratios are simple optimal predictors, in that they provide at least the same prognostic value as the more traditional staging based on counting of involved nodes, without replacing them with a needlessly complicated alternative. They can be viewed as a per patient standardization in which the number of involved nodes is standardized to the number of nodes excised. In an extension to the study, ratios were validated in a comparison with categorized staging measures using blinded data from the San Jose–Monterey cancer registry. A ratio based prognostic index was also derived. It improved the Nottingham Prognostic Index without compromising on simplicity.
PMCID: PMC1064081  PMID: 15535850
axillary lymph node ratio; breast neoplasm; functional form; loco-regional; log odds; nodal ratio; Nottingham Prognostic Index; predictive utility; prognostic factors; proportional hazards; proportion based; ratio-based prognostic index; SEER program; staging; survival

Results 1-5 (5)