Quality of life and cosmesis after breast cancer: whole breast radiotherapy vs partial breast high-dose-rate brachytherapy


Aim and Background

Conservative surgery and radiotherapy for early breast cancer offers a better quality of life than mastectomy. As 80-85% of breast relapses develop close to the tumour bed, partial breast irradiation was developed to overcome drawbacks with standard radiotherapy. This study compares quality of life and cosmesis after partial breast multi-catheter high-dose rate interstitial brachytherapy or standard radiotherapy.


A questionnaire, exploring body image, fear of recurrence, satisfaction with treatment and cosmesis, was administered to 39 partial and 78 whole breast patients at a median of 20 and 80 months after radiotherapy. Patients’ and physicians’ cosmetic assessments were compared.


Groups were well-matched, except for: a higher percentage of chemotherapy-treated patients in the whole breast group and a older median age and a higher percentage of infiltrating ductal carcinoma G1 in partial breast group. At first and second analysis no significant inter-group difference emerged on body image and fear of recurrence, while partial breast patients were more satisfied with cosmetic outcome and at first analysis with treatment. Comparing results from first and second analysis into each treatment group, body image was significantly better at the first analysis in both groups. Fear of recurrence was unchanged. No differences were found in cosmesis as assessed by patients. At first and second analyses physicians’ assessment of cosmesis was significantly better in the partial breast group.


Even at longer follow-up, quality of life is similar after partial or whole breast irradiation. Cosmesis is better after partial breast irradiation.

Tumori 2015; 101(2): 161 - 167




Elisabetta Perrucci, Valentina Lancellotta, Vittorio Bini, Lorenzo Falcinelli, Alessia Farneti, Manuela Margaritelli, Giorgia Capezzali, Isabella Palumbo, Cynthia Aristei

Article History


Financial support: No funding for this study was received from any source.
Conflicts of interest: None to declare.

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  • Radiation Oncology Section, Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Perugia - Italy
  • Radiation Oncology Section, University of Perugia and Santa Maria della Misericordia Hospital, Perugia - Italy
  • Department of Internal Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia - Italy

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