Patient-Reported Symptoms of Late Toxicity in Patients With Breast Cancer Treated With Hypofractionated Radiation Therapy and the Association With Quality of Life

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PURPOSE: Our purpose was to assess the prevalence of patient-reported symptoms of local late toxicity in patients with irradiated breast cancer and determine the association between late toxicity and quality of life.

METHODS: Within the prospective Utrecht cohort for Multiple BReast cancer intErvention studies and Long-term evaluation cohort, a survey on self-reported late toxicity was sent to all patients with breast cancer with ≥12 months interval since radiation therapy treated with curative intent. Patients were treated with hypofractionated radiation therapy of 40 Gy/15 fractions or 42.5 Gy/16 fractions, with or without a simultaneous integrated boost. Symptoms of late toxicity were evaluated on a 4-point Likert scale. Late toxicity was defined as moderate-severe breast or chest wall pain combined with at least 1 other mild-severe late toxicity symptom, that is, breast or arm/hand lymphedema, firmness of the breast, or impaired arm movement. Physical, role, and social functioning were measured before, during, and after the late toxicity survey using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Quality of Life Core questionnaire-C30 and compared with a Dutch normative population.

RESULTS: In the study, 1613/2248 patients (72%) were included. Of those, 16% (n = 265) reported late toxicity. The median time interval between radiation therapy and survey was 38 months (interquartile range, 21-55). Moderate/severe firmness of the breast, chest wall pain, and breast pain were reported by, respectively, 18% (n = 295), 14% (n = 225), and 10% (n = 140) of all patients. Physical, role, and social functioning were below the clinical threshold (ie, clinically relevant impairment) in 13% to 52% of patients with late toxicity and 2% to 26% of patients without late toxicity. Patients with late toxicity significantly more often received analgesics, physiotherapy, and lymphedema therapy compared with patients without late toxicity.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provided insight into the prevalence of patient-reported late toxicity after hypofractionated radiation therapy and the influence of late toxicity on quality of life after breast cancer. These results may help health care professionals to inform their patients about long-term effects of breast cancer treatment including hypofractionated radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1191
Number of pages11
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number5
Early online date17 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


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