Breast-conserving therapy in the setting of collagen vascular disease

Allen M. Chen, Edward Obedian, Bruce G. Haffty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: It is unclear whether the presence of collagen vascular disease should be considered a contraindication to irradiation. This study was undertaken to determine whether women with pre-existing collagen vascular disease have an increased incidence of complications after breast-conserving therapy. METHODS AND MATERIALS: A cohort of 36 patients with documented collagen vascular disease was conservatively treated for early-stage breast cancer between 1975 and 1998. All of these patients were treated with conventional radiation therapy to a total medium dose of 64 Gy. Seventeen had rheumatoid arthritis; four, scleroderma; four, Raynaud's phenomenon; five, lupus erythematosus; two, Sjögren's disease; and four, polymyositis. Each of these patients was matched to two control patients without a history of collagen vascular disease on the basis of age, radiation therapy technique, chemotherapy or hormone therapy use, tumor histology, and date of treatment. Acute and late complications were assessed using a six-point scale from the toxicity criteria of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer. The scoring system for both acute and late reactions ranged from 0 (no change over baseline) to 5 (radiation led to death). For the purpose of statistical analysis, patients were classified as having a significant complication if they had a score of 3 or greater. RESULTS: With a median clinical follow-up time of 12.5 years (range, 3.0-22.5 years), no significant difference was detected between the collagen vascular disease and control groups with respect to acute complications (14% vs 8%). With respect to late complications, a significant difference was observed (17% vs 3%) between the two groups. However, when patients in the collagen vascular disease group were analyzed by specific disease, this significance disappeared in all but the scleroderma group. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with scleroderma have a statistically significant increased incidence of radiation therapy complications after breast-conserving surgery and radiation therapy. The presence of other collagen vascular diseases should not be considered a contraindication for this treatment modality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)480-491
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Collagen vascular disease
  • Conservative surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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