Current indications for radiation therapy in women with breast cancer are controversial and continue to be modified. Current indications for breast reconstruction in the setting of radiation therapy are also controversial and poorly defined. The purpose of this study is to analyze oncologic outcomes following various methods of breast reconstruction in the setting of radiation therapy. A retrospective review of 676 women who had breast reconstruction following mastectomy was completed. A total of 146 women had breast reconstruction either before or after radiation therapy and were analyzed. Response variables included tumor recurrence and patient demise for patients having autologous and prosthetic reconstruction. Explanatory variables included patient age, cancer stage, radiation therapy, diabetes mellitus, and tobacco use. Recurrence of tumor occurred in 29 of 146 women (19.8%), of which 27% was when radiation followed reconstruction and 14.9% was when radiation preceded reconstruction. Patient demise occurred in 8.9%, of which 11.9% was when radiation followed reconstruction and 6.9% was when radiation preceded reconstruction. The difference in tumor recurrence in the setting of radiation therapy before or after breast reconstruction was significant for autologous (P = 0.0146) and prosthetic (P = 0.0424) reconstruction. The difference in patient demise was significant for autologous reconstruction (P = 0.0380) but not for prosthetic reconstruction (P = 0.2827). These results imply that tumor recurrence and patient demise may be increased when radiation therapy is performed following breast reconstruction. The need for a prospective inquiry is validated.
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