Adjuvant radiation therapy (RT) following breast-conserving surgery (BCS) represents a standard approach for most patients treated with breast-conserving therapy (BCT) for early-stage breast cancer. The first-generation of adjuvant RT schedules delivered daily treatment to the whole breast over 5–7 weeks. Although efficacious, this presented patients with a protracted course of treatment, reducing compliance and quality of life. While hypofractionated whole-breast irradiation (WBI) has become the standard, and part of the second-generation of RT regimens, it still requires 3–4 weeks. Concurrently, partial-breast irradiation (PBI) has also been explored as a technique to complete RT in a much shorter time period (1–3 weeks). There are now seven trials confirming the efficacy of this shorter treatment approach compared with standard WBI. In an effort to further reduce treatment duration, ultra-short WBI and PBI regimens have recently emerged as the third-generation of breast radiation schedules, allowing for the completion of treatment in 5 days or less. With respect to WBI, recent data from the FAST-Forward trial (which evaluated five fractions of WBI delivered in 1 week) demonstrated no difference in clinical outcomes at 5 years, with limited difference in toxicity, compared with hypofractionated 3-week WBI. Regarding PBI, published data on five-fraction regimens delivered in 2 weeks have also demonstrated comparable outcomes at 10 years, with reduced toxicities with long-term follow-up. This report will review additional ongoing studies evaluating even shorter courses of adjuvant RT treatment (one to five fractions), including single-fraction PBI or WBI.
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