Patient views and correlates of radiotherapy omission in a population-based sample of older women with favorable-prognosis breast cancer

Dean A. Shumway, Kent A. Griffith, Sarah T. Hawley, Lauren P. Wallner, Kevin C. Ward, Ann S. Hamilton, Monica Morrow, Steven J. Katz, Reshma Jagsi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The omission of radiotherapy (RT) after lumpectomy is a reasonable option for many older women with favorable-prognosis breast cancer. In the current study, we sought to evaluate patient perspectives regarding decision making about RT. METHODS: Women aged 65 to 79 years with AJCC 7th edition stage I and II breast cancer who were reported to the Georgia and Los Angeles County Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries were surveyed (response rate, 70%) regarding RT decisions, the rationale for omitting RT, decision-making values, and understanding of disease recurrence risk. We also surveyed their corresponding surgeons (response rate, 77%). Patient characteristics associated with the omission of RT were evaluated using multilevel, multivariable logistic regression, accounting for patient clustering within surgeons. RESULTS: Of 999 patients, 135 omitted RT (14%). Older age, lower tumor grade, and having estrogen receptor-positive disease each were found to be strongly associated with omission of RT in multivariable analyses, whereas the number of comorbidities was not. Non-English speakers were more likely to omit RT (adjusted odds ratio, 5.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-24.5). The most commonly reported reasons for RT omission were that a physician advised the patient that it was not needed (54% of patients who omitted RT) and patient choice (41%). Risk of local disease recurrence was overestimated by all patients: by approximately 2-fold among those who omitted RT and by approximately 8-fold among those who received RT. The risk of distant disease recurrence was overestimated by approximately 3-fold on average. CONCLUSIONS: To some extent, decisions regarding RT omission are appropriately influenced by patient age, tumor grade, and estrogen receptor status, but do not appear to be optimally tailored according to competing comorbidities. Many women who are candidates for RT omission overestimate their risk of disease recurrence. Cancer 2018;124:2714-2723.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2714-2723
Number of pages10
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • breast cancer
  • decision making
  • geriatric oncology
  • radiotherapy (RT) omission
  • risk perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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