Objective: To determine indications for the use of postmastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) for patients with invasive breast cancer with involved axillary lymph nodes or locally advanced disease who receive systemic therapy. These guidelines are intended for use in the care of patients outside of clinical trials.
Potential Intervention: The benefits and risks of PMRT in such patients, as well as subgroups of these patients, were considered. The details of the PMRT technique were also evaluated.
Outcomes: The outcomes considered included freedom from local-regional recurrence, survival (disease-free and overall), and long-term toxicity.
Evidence: An expert multidisciplinary panel reviewed pertinent information from the published literature through July 2000; certain investigators were contacted for more recent and, in some cases, unpublished information. A computerized search was performed of MEDLINE data; directed searches based on the bibliographies of primary articles were also performed.
Values: Levels of evidence and guideline grades were assigned by the Panel using standard criteria. A "recommendation" was made when level I or II evidence was available and there was consensus as to its meaning. A "suggestion" was made based on level III, IV, or V evidence and there was consensus as to its meaning. Areas of clinical importance were pointed out where guidelines could not be formulated due to insufficient evidenceor lack of consensus.
Recommendations: The recommendations, suggestions, and expert opinions of the Panel are described in this article.
Validation: Seven outside reviewers, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Health Services Research Committee members, and the ASCO Board of Directors reviewed this document.
ASCO’s practice guidelines reflect expert consensus based on clinical evidence and literature available at the time they are written and are intended to assist physicians in clinical decision-making and identify questions and settings for further research. Due to the rapid flow of scientific information in oncology, new evidence may have emerged since the time a guideline was submitted for publication. Guidelines are not continually updated and may not reflect the most recent evidence. Guidelines address only the topics specifically identified in the guideline and are not applicable to interventions, diseases or stages of disease not specifically identified. Guidelines cannot account for individual variation among patients and cannot be considered inclusive of all proper methods of care or exclusive of other treatments. It is the responsibility of the treating physician or other health care provider, relying on independent experience and knowledge of the patient, to determine the best course of treatment for the patient. Accordingly, adherence to any guideline is voluntary, with the ultimate determination regarding its application to be made by the physician in light of each patient's individual circumstances and preferences. ASCO guidelines describe the use of procedures and therapies in clinical practice and cannot be assumed to apply to the use of these interventions in the context of clinical trials. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to any use of ASCO's guidelines, or for any errors or omissions.