Early experience of tomotherapy-based intensity-modulated radiotherapy for breast cancer treatment

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2009 May;21(4):294-301. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2009.01.010. Epub 2009 Feb 26.


Aims: New technology - specifically intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) - is now being applied to breast radiotherapy and a recent dosimetric analysis confirmed the advantages of IMRT over 'wedge-only' plans. Such application to everyday practice raises new issues and here we present the early experience of IMRT-based breast irradiation in a single centre.

Materials and methods: We present cases of breast cancer treated by Tomotherapy-based IMRT, where the perceived advantages of IMRT are considerable. Cases presented are bilateral disease, left breast irradiation, pectus excavatum, prominent contralateral prosthesis and internal mammary chain disease. We discuss the practicalities of such treatment and the advantages over standard breast irradiation techniques.

Results: Advantages include better conformity of treatment with lowering of dosages to underlying organs at risk, for example ipsilateral lung and heart. There is improved coverage of the planning target volume, including regional nodes, without field junction problems. Planning, quality assurance and treatment delivery are more time consuming than for standard breast irradiation and the low dose 'bath' is increased.

Conclusions: The standard radiotherapy tangential technique for breast/chest wall treatments has not significantly changed over many decades, whereas across many other tumour sites there have been great advances in radiotherapy technology. The dosimetric advantages of IMRT are readily apparent from our early experience. The wider spread of the lower dose zone (the low dose 'bath' of radiation) is a potential concern regarding late oncogenesis and methods to minimise such risks should be considered.

MeSH terms

  • Breast / radiation effects*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / instrumentation*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods
  • Time Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*