August 1st 2003
Over the past 2 decades, breast-conservation therapy with lumpectomyand whole-breast radiotherapy has become a standard option for themajority of women with newly diagnosed breast cancer. Long-term localcontrol is achieved in approximately 85% of patients, and the therapy isgenerally well tolerated. There can, however, be long-term effects on thebreast and other nearby tissues that may range from asymptomaticfindings on examination to severe, debilitating problems. Infection, fatnecrosis, and severe musculoskeletal problems such as osteoradionecrosisor soft-tissue necrosis are uncommon, affecting less than 5% ofpatients. However, changes in range of motion, mild-to-moderate musculoskeletalpain, and arm and breast edema are much more common.As more women choose breast-conservation therapy for management oftheir breast cancer, physicians will encounter these problems, as well asin-breast tumor recurrence, with greater frequency. This review willfocus on the incidence, contributing factors, and management of thelate problems of infection, fat necrosis, musculoskeletal complications,and local recurrence following breast-conservation therapy.