Contemporary Outcomes After Multimodality Therapy in Patients With Breast Cancer Presenting With Ipsilateral Supraclavicular Node Involvement

Kevin Diao, Lauren M. Andring, Carlos H. Barcenas, Puneet Singh, Huong (Carisa) Le-Petross, Valerie K. Reed, Jay P. Reddy, Elizabeth S. Bloom, Neelfur Ahmad, Lauren L. Mayo, George H. Perkins, Melissa Pulfer Mitchell, Kevin T. Nead, Welela Tereffe, Benjamin D. Smith, Wendy A. Woodward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: Patients with breast cancer and ipsilateral supraclavicular (SCV) node involvement at the time of diagnosis (TNM cN3c) have historically had poor outcomes. Radiation therapy (RT) has an important role because SCV nodes are not routinely surgically dissected. However, optimal locoregional management, contemporary outcomes, and prognostic factors are not well defined. Methods and Materials: We reviewed the data of patients with cN3c breast cancer treated at our institution between 2014 and 2019 with curative intent, including neoadjuvant chemotherapy, surgery, and adjuvant RT. All patients received comprehensive regional RT, including to the SCV nodes. Institutional guidelines recommend a 10-Gy or 16-Gy boost to resolved and unresolved N3 nodes, respectively. Overall survival (OS), recurrence-free survival (RFS), locoregional recurrence-free survival (LRRFS), and supraclavicular recurrence-free survival (SCRFS) were analyzed. Results: Data from 173 consecutive patients were analyzed with a median follow-up time of 2.8 years. The median age was 54 years, 76 patients (44%) were estrogen receptor positive/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 negative, 100 patients (58%) had T3/4 disease, and 10 patients (6%) underwent a neck dissection. In addition, 156 patients (90%) received a cumulative SCV dose of ≥60 Gy. The 5-year OS, SCRFS, LRRFS, and RFS rates were 73%, 95%, 86%, and 50%, respectively. The 5-year OS rate for a cumulative SCV dose of ≥60 Gy versus <60 Gy was 75% versus 39% (P =.04). In the multivariable analysis, a cumulative SCV dose of ≥60 Gy, extranodal extension, receptor status, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status were associated with OS. The 5-year SCRFS rates with and without neck dissection were 100% versus 95% (P =.57). Among patients with a postchemotherapy SCV node size of ≥1 cm without neck dissection, the 5-year SCRFS rate was 83%. Conclusions: In one of the largest series of patients with cN3c breast cancer, multimodality therapy using adjuvant RT with a SCV boost resulted in a 5-year LRRFS rate of 86%. There is a limited role for neck dissection as the 5-year SCRFS rate was 95% overall and 83% for residual SCV disease ≥1 cm after chemotherapy with RT alone. A cumulative SCV dose of ≥60 Gy was associated with improved OS, but not SCRFS, LRRFS, or RFS. A SCV boost should be considered in these patients as treatment was well-tolerated. Despite advances in systemic therapy, nearly half of patients developed distant metastases, highlighting the need for close observation after treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-74
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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