Purpose: To study the potential reduction of dose to organs at risk (OARs) with intensity-modulated proton radiotherapy (IMPT) compared with intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) photon radiotherapy for left-sided breast cancer patients.
Methods and materials: Comparative treatment-planning was performed using planning computed tomography scans of 20 left-sided breast cancer patients. For each patient, three increasingly complex locoregional volumes (planning target volumes [PTVs]) were defined: whole breast (WB) or chest wall (CW) = (PTV1), WB/CW plus medial-supraclavicular (MSC), lateral-supraclavicular (LSC), and level III axillary (AxIII) nodes = (PTV2) and WB/CW+MSC+LSC+AxIII plus internal mammary chain = (PTV3). For each patient, 3D-CRT, IMRT, and IMPT plans were optimized for PTV coverage. Dose to OARs was compared while maintaining target coverage.
Results: All the techniques met the required PTV coverage except the 3D-CRT plans for PTV3-scenario. All 3D-CRT plans for PTV3 exceeded left-lung V20. IMPT vs. 3D-CRT: significant dose reductions were observed for all OARs using IMPT for all PTVs. IMPT vs. IMRT: For PTV2 and PTV3, low (V5) left lung and cardiac doses were reduced by a factor >2.5, and cardiac doses (V22.5) were by a factor of >20 lower with IMPT compared with IMRT.
Conclusions: When complex-target irradiation is needed, 3D-CRT often compromises the target coverage and increases the dose to OARs; IMRT can provide better results but will increase the integral dose. The benefit of IMPT is based on improved target coverage and reduction of low doses to OARs, potentially reducing the risk of late-toxicity. These results indicate a potential role of proton-radiotherapy for extended locoregional irradiation in left breast cancer.
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