Breast cancer radiotherapy represents an essential component in the overall management of both early stage and locally advanced breast cancer. As the number of breast cancer survivors has increased, chronic sequelae of breast cancer radiotherapy become more important. While recently published data suggest a potential for an increase in cardiac events with radiotherapy, these studies do not consider the impact of newer radiotherapy techniques commonly utilized. Therefore, the purpose of this review is to evaluate cardiac dose sparing techniques in breast cancer radiotherapy. Current options for cardiac protection/avoidance include (1) maneuvers that displace the heart from the field such as coordinating the breathing cycle or through prone patient positioning, (2) technological advances such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) or proton beam therapy (PBT), and (3) techniques that treat a smaller volume around the lumpectomy cavity such as accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), or intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT). While these techniques have shown promise dosimetrically, limited data on late cardiac events exist due to the difficulties of long-term follow up. Future studies are required to validate the efficacy of cardiac dose sparing techniques and may use surrogates for cardiac events such as biomarkers or perfusion imaging.
Keywords: Breast cancer; Cardiac toxicity; Dose reduction; Radiation therapy; Respiratory gating.
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