• recurrent breast carcinoma;
  • breast surgery;
  • radiation therapy;
  • accelerated partial breast irradiation;
  • three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy;
  • brachytherapy


Mastectomy is the current standard of care for in-breast local recurrence of breast carcinoma. The objective of the current study was to critically review the rationale for and the theoretic and actual risks and benefits of repeat breast-conserving surgery followed by partial breast irradiation (PBI) for in-breast local recurrence of breast carcinoma. The main outcomes of interest were local control and survival after in-breast local recurrence and side effects, complications, and cosmesis after reirradiation of the breast. The risk of local recurrence was not found to be eliminated with mastectomy; approximately 2–32% of patients treated with mastectomy develop a chest wall recurrence. The interpretation of local control rates in evaluating repeat breast-conserving surgery studies is difficult because of the lack of information regarding preoperative diagnostic mammography to rule out concurrent multicentric disease and microscopic margin status after surgery. Rates of subsequent local recurrence in these studies appeared to be between 19–50%, similar to reported rates of in-breast local recurrence in patients with a first diagnosis of breast carcinoma who were treated with conservative surgery without irradiation. Early follow-up studies of breast reirradiation suggest that catheter-based interstitial brachytherapy and standard external beam radiation therapy can be delivered to the breast more than once without significant side effects in most patients and with acceptable cosmesis in some patients. Mastectomy may not be necessary in all patients with an in-breast local recurrence of breast carcinoma. Recent advances in conformal radiation delivery and single-center published reports concerning repeat breast-conserving therapy support well designed prospective trials to formally test this hypothesis. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.