Last updated on July 2018

Study of Radiation Fractionation on Patient Outcomes After Breast REConstruction (FABREC) for Invasive Breast Carcinoma


Brief description of study

This study is a randomized trial of hypofractionation (short-course) radiation therapy versus conventional radiation therapy in women who have undergone mastectomy and immediate breast reconstruction. The investigators will assess cosmetic and reconstruction outcomes, lymphedema, cancer status, side effects, and oncologic outcomes.

Detailed Study Description

Over 180,000 diagnoses of invasive breast cancer are made in the US each year. Over onethird of women with early stage and over half with latestage breast cancer are treated with mastectomy (removal of the entire breast) due to tumor size, multiple cancers within the breast, genetic cancer predisposition, and/or patient preference. Following treatment with mastectomy, women who receive breast reconstructive surgery may experience better quality of life as they do not have to leave surgery with a bare chest wall. However, large randomized trials of post-mastectomy radiation therapy reveal a survival benefit with the addition of radiation after mastectomy in women who have cancer present in the axillary lymph nodes (6). The delivery of radiation therapy in the presence of a breast reconstruction is challenging and often leads to undesirable consequences including reconstruction loss, need for major surgical revision, or poor cosmetic outcomes. Therefore, oncologists and patients are forced to decide between the potential for improved oncologic outcomes with radiation therapy versus increased likelihood of complications and suboptimal cosmetic results. Because of this, some patients may be foregoing reconstruction if radiation therapy after mastectomy is needed; or foregoing radiation therapy if they have had breast reconstructive surgery (28).

Hypofractionation enhances patient convenience and decreases treatment burden. This regimen has been shown in randomized trials largely in the breastconservation setting to reduce acute radiation therapy sideeffects, decrease fatigue at six months and improve cosmetic results (21, 22). Despite these results, adoption of hypofractionation has been slow among women with breast cancer treated with breastconserving surgery (24, 25) likely due to familiarity and experience of conventional longcourse radiation therapy.

While hypofractionation is used commonly in the UK for patients with mastectomy, there are no randomized studies particularly studying outcomes following shorter course radiation therapy in women who undergo mastectomy with breast reconstruction. Therefore, there is an even greater barrier to the use of hypofractionation in this setting in the US. With improved cosmetic results found with hypofractionation, this shorter regimen may have the potential to improve reconstruction success rates which are unfortunately modest overall, for patients who require post-mastectomy radiation. Especially in contrast to financial disincentives to reduce number of radiation treatments, Level I randomized evidence is needed in this population to change practice patterns regarding radiation regimen.

Our study of radiation fractionation regimens has the potential to increase use of hypofractionation among women treated with mastectomy, thereby decreasing treatment burden. Our team of patient stakeholders ensures that our outcomes measures encompass all domains of survivorship after breast cancer (physical and mental health as well as satisfaction with the decisionmaking process). Despite the large numbers of breast cancer survivors who undergo mastectomy, reconstruction and radiation therapy, little is known about which domains of quality of life are affected and their importance to these patients. This study uses previously validated tools for measuring patient outcomes, and have added questions for areas which are important to patients that may not have been captured adequately by previous tools. In concert with the increasing awareness of the importance of survivorship care to cancer care, identifying a comprehensive set of outcomes measurement tools following treatment with radiation therapy, mastectomy, and reconstruction is an important asset for future treatment evaluation in these women.

Clinical Study Identifier: NCT03422003

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Catherine Park, MD

University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA United States
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Kathleen Horst, MD

Stanford University Medical Center
Stanford, CA United States
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Patricia Hardenbergh, MD

Vail Health
Edwards, CO United States
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Meena Moran, MD

Yale Cancer Center
New Haven, CT United States
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Jean Wright, MD

Johns Hopkins Medicine
Washington, WA United States
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Kurt Snyder, MD

Eastern Maine Medical Center
Brewer, ME United States
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Matthew Cheney, MD

Maine Medical Center
Scarborough, ME United States
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Alphonse Taghian, MD, PhD

Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, MA United States
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Abram Recht, MD

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, MA United States
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Julia Wong, MD

Dana Farber Cancer Institute
Boston, MA United States
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Mathew Katz, MD

Lowell General Hospital
Lowell, MA United States
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Ron Shiloh, MD

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) at Milford Regional Medical Center
Milford, MA United States
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Laura Warren, MD

Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center in clinical affiliation with South Shore Hospital
South Weymouth, MA United States
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Kara Leonard, MD

Lifespan/Rhode Island Hospital
Providence, RI United States
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Janice Kim, MD

University of Washington
Seattle, WA United States
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