Editorials

Brachial plexus neuropathy after radiotherapy for breast cancer

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.311.7019.1516 (Published 09 December 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:1516
  1. Margaret F Spittle
  1. Consultant clinical oncologist Middlesex Hospital, London W1N 8AA

    Lower doses and surgical management of the axilla may be the answer

    It is tragic when patients are permanently harmed by a complication of treatment. One such complication, which has recently received publicity, is brachial plexus neuropathy after radiotherapy for early breast cancer.1 A group of women who perceived themselves damaged in this way formed a pressure group called RAGE (Radiotherapy Action Group Exposure). In response the Royal College of Radiologists commissioned an independent survey by two senior oncologists funded by the NHS Executive.2

    The committee of RAGE received more than 1000 letters after publicity surrounding litigation and formed an action group with 800 members. Of 556 women who thought they had sustained nerve damage the college contacted those who had been treated at 15 representative centres. These women were asked if they would agree to have their medical records reviewed in order to establish whether they were suffering from a condition related to the disease process …

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