Background: Radiation therapy after lumpectomy is a standard part of breast conserving therapy for invasive breast carcinoma. The most frequently used schedule worldwide is 60 Gy in 30 fractions in 6 weeks, a time commitment that sporadically may dissuade some otherwise eligible women from undertaking treatment. The purpose and primary endpoint of this perspective study is to evaluate feasibility and short-term late toxicity in a hypofractionated whole breast irradiation schedule.
Methods: Between February and October 2008 we treated 65 consecutive patients with operable invasive early-stage breast cancer with a hypofractionated schedule of external beam radiation therapy. All patients were assigned to 39 Gy in 13 fractions in 3 weeks to the whole breast plus a concomitant weekly boost dose to the lumpectomy cavity of 3 Gy in 3 fractions.
Results: All the patients had achieved a median follow up of 24 months (range 21-29 months). At the end of treatment 52% presented grade 0 acute toxicity 39% had grade 1 and 9% had grade 2. At 6 months with all the patients assessed there were 34% case of grade 1 subacute toxicity and 6% of grade 2. At 12 months 43% and 3% of patients presented with clinical grade 1 and grade 2 fibrosis respectively and 5% presented grade 1 hyperpigmentation. The remaining patients were free of side effects. At 24 months, with 56 assessed, just 2 patients (3%) showed grade 2 of late fibrosis.
Conclusions: The clinical results observed showed a reasonably good feasibility of the accelerated hypofractionated schedule in terms of acute, subacute and short-term late toxicity. This useful 13 fractions with a concomitant boost schedule seems, in selected patients, a biologically acceptable alternative to the traditional 30 days regime.