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QUESTION: In women with early breast cancer, what are the long term (20 y) effects of radiotherapy on mortality from breast cancer and on mortality from causes other than breast cancer?
Studies were identified by searching published lists of randomised trials and Medline; handsearching selected journals, meeting abstracts, and references of published trials and reviews; and by contacting experts repeatedly over a 15 year period.
Studies were selected if they were randomised controlled trials begun before 1990 that compared radiotherapy plus other treatments with the same treatments without radiotherapy.
Information was requested for each woman on age; menopausal status; type of surgery and nodal status; and dates of randomisation, allocated treatment, first subsequent local recurrence, and death.
Data from 19 582 women were assembled from 40 …