A University of Wisconsin radiologist has suggested that 25% to 50% of women with breast cancer should benefit from postoperative radiotherapy.
Halvor Vermund, MD, Madison, Wis, divided these women into two groups: those with tumor confined to the mammary gland with or without limited involvement of the axillary lymph nodes, curable by radical mastectomy alone; and those with extension of tumor beyond the tissues which can be removed by the conventional Halsted operation. Reduction of the incidence of local recurrences and the prevention of distant metastases are sought in these patients.
From 26% to 77% of patients, as noted in several studies, demonstrate metastases to the lymphatics which are not removed by conventional radical mastectomy.
"Main objective of postoperative radiotherapy, therefore, is to eradicate residual tumor in surgically inaccessible areas," Vermund said.
Moderate involvement of the lymphatics with microscopic deposits of tumor cells should represent a relatively favorable situation for