Background: Combining radiation and hormone therapy (administration of selective estrogen receptor modulators) has become common clinical practice in recent years for receptor positive breast cancer. Little is known about a possible interaction of both treatment modalities if they are given simultaneously. Tamoxifen (antiestrogen molecule, triphenyl-ethylene derivative) may theoretically render cancer cells less responsive to radiotherapy arresting hormone-receptor-positive cells in G0/G1 phase and increase the risk of breast and lung fibrosis stimulating the secretion of transforming growth factor beta in human fibroblasts. Purpose: This article reviews the published data to assess the impact of sequencing of hormonal and radiation therapy on outcomes in breast cancer. Methods: Computerised searches for publications debating the sequencing of hormonal therapy relative to radiation therapy were done using MEDLINE data. Results: Results of tamoxifen experiments with cell culture regarding radioprotection of tumour clonogens are conflicting. In contrast to in vitro results, in animal studies no protective effect of tamoxifen was observed. In one in vitro study, letrozole (non-steroid selective aromatase inhibitor) had a radiosensitizing effect on breast-cancer lines. No randomised clinical trials to date have studied sequencing of tamoxifen or other selective estrogen receptor modulators and radiotherapy. Results from retrospective clinical studies which included treatment arms with and without tamoxifen showed reduction in tumour recurrence with tamoxifen. Some of these studies have noted increased risk of lung and breast fibrosis with tamoxifen with radiotherapy. Results of three articles examined the effect of tamoxifen sequence showed no adverse effect on local control or survival in sequential versus concurrent tamoxifen and radiation patients. One of the three studies also assessed the risk of complications with respect to the timing of tamoxifen with radiotherapy. There was no difference in the rates of complications between the two groups. The association of radiation and selective aromatase inhibitors or aromatase inactivators has not been addressed in clinical studies. Conclusions: Combined application of tamoxifen and radiotherapy improves survival and local control in breast cancer. Available clinical studies do not indicate that the simultaneous application of tamoxifen and radiotherapy is disadvantageous, as was suggested by some of the in vitro studies. The risk of subcutaneous breast and lung fibrosis might be slightly increased if tamoxifen is given simultaneously with radiotherapy. Both treatment modalities should be started early after surgery. There is no sufficient evidence to withhold tamoxifen administration during irradiation of breast cancer. The issue of optimal sequencing of hormonal and radiotherapy should be addressed in randomised clinical trials.
|Number of pages||5|
|Publication status||Published - Jan 22 2006|
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