PURPOSE: Breast conserving surgery (BCS) followed by chemotherapy (CTx.) and radiation therapy (RT) is widely performed for the treatment of early breast cancer. This retrospective study was undertaken to evaluate our interim results in terms of failure patterns, survival and relative risk factors. MATERIALS AND METHODS: From January 1999 through December 2003, 129 patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and treated with BCS followed by RT were subject to retrospective review. The median age of the patients was 45 years (age distribution, 27~76 years). The proportions of patients according to their tumor, nodes, and metastases (TNM) stage were 65 (50.4%) in stage I, 41 (31.7%) in stage IIa, 13 (10.1%) in stage IIb, 9 (7.0%) in stage III, and 1 patient (0.8%) in stage IIIc. For 32 patients (24.8%), axillary node metastasis was found after dissection. BCS consisted of quadrantectomy in 115 patients (89.1%) and lumpectomy in 14 patients (10.6%). Axillary node dissection at axillary level I and II was performed for 120 patients (93%). For 7 patients (5.4%), only sentinel node dissection was performed with BCS. For 2 patients (1.6%) axillary dissection of any type was not performed. Postoperative RT was given with 6 MV X-rays. A tumor dose of 50.4 Gy was delivered to the entire breast area using a tangential field with a wedge compensator. An aditional dose of 9~16 Gy was given to the primary tumor bed areas with electron beams. In 30 patients (23.3%), RT was delivered to the supraclavicular node. Most patients had adjuvant CTx. with 4~6 cycles of CMF (cyclophosphamide, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil) regimens. The median follow-up period was 50 months (range: 17~93 months). RESULTS: The actuarial 5 year survival rate (5Y-OSR) was 96.9%, and the 5 year disease free survival rate (5Y-DFSR) was 93.7%. Local recurrences were noted in 2 patients (true: 2, regional node: 1) as the first sign of recurrence at a mean time of 29.3 months after surgery. Five patients developed distant metastases as the first sign of recurrence at 6~33 months (mean 21 months). Sites of distant metastatic sites were bone in 3 patients, liver in 1 patient and systemic lesions in 1 patient. Among the patients with distant metastatic sites, two patients died at 17 and 25 months during the follow-up period. According to stage, the 5Y-OSR was 95.5%, 100%, 84.6%, and 100% for stage I, IIa, IIb, and III respectively. The 5Y-DFSR was 96.8%, 92.7%, 76.9%, and 100% for stage I, IIa, IIb, and III respectively. Stage was the only risk factor for local recurrence based on univariate analysis. Ten stage III patients included in this analysis had a primary tumor size of less than 3 cm and had more than 4 axillary lymph node metastases. The 10 stage III patients received not only breast RT but also received posterior axillary boost RT to the supraclavicular node. During the median 53.3 months follow-up period, no any local or distant failure was found. Complications were asymptomatic radiation pneumonitis in 10 patients, symptomatic pneumonitis in 1 patient and lymphedema in 8 patients. CONCLUSION: Although our follow up period is short, we had excellent local control and survival results and reaffirmed that BCS followed by RT and CTx. appears to be an adequate treatment method. These results also provide evidence that distant failure occurrs earlier and more frequent as compared with local failure. Further studies and a longer follow-up period are needed to assess the effectiveness of BCS followed by RT for the patients with less than a 3 cm primary tumor and more than 4 axillary node metastases.