Purpose: In patients with early-stage breast cancer treated with breast-conserving surgery, randomized trials have found little difference in local control and survival outcomes between patients treated with conventionally fractionated (CF-) whole breast irradiation (WBI) and those receiving hypofractionated (HF)-WBI. However, it remains controversial whether these results apply to all subgroups of patients. We therefore developed an evidence-based guideline to provide direction for clinical practice.
Methods and materials: A task force authorized by the American Society for Radiation Oncology weighed evidence from a systematic literature review and produced the recommendations contained herein.
Results: The majority of patients in randomized trials were aged 50 years or older, had disease Stage pT1-2 pN0, did not receive chemotherapy, and were treated with a radiation dose homogeneity within ±7% in the central axis plane. Such patients experienced equivalent outcomes with either HF-WBI or CF-WBI. Patients not meeting these criteria were relatively underrepresented, and few of the trials reported subgroup analyses. For patients not receiving a radiation boost, the task force favored a dose schedule of 42.5 Gy in 16 fractions when HF-WBI is planned. The task force also recommended that the heart should be excluded from the primary treatment fields (when HF-WBI is used) due to lingering uncertainty regarding late effects of HF-WBI on cardiac function. The task force could not agree on the appropriateness of a tumor bed boost in patients treated with HF-WBI.
Conclusion: Data were sufficient to support the use of HF-WBI for patients with early-stage breast cancer who met all the aforementioned criteria. For other patients, the task force could not reach agreement either for or against the use of HF-WBI, which nevertheless should not be interpreted as a contraindication to its use.
Copyright © 2011 American Society for Radiation Oncology. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.