Clinical impact of IMPORT HIGH trial (CRUK/06/003) on breast radiotherapy practices in the United Kingdom

Br J Radiol. 2015;88(1056):20150453. doi: 10.1259/bjr.20150453. Epub 2015 Oct 22.


Objective: IMPORT HIGH is a multicentre randomized UK trial testing dose-escalated intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) after tumour excision in females with early breast cancer and higher than average local recurrence risk. A survey was carried out to investigate the impact of this trial on the adoption of advanced breast radiotherapy (RT) techniques in the UK.

Methods: A questionnaire was sent to all 26 IMPORT HIGH recruiting RT centres to determine whether the trial has influenced non-trial breast RT techniques in terms of volume delineation, dosimetry, treatment delivery and verification. In order to compare the clinical practice of breast RT between IMPORT HIGH and non-IMPORT HIGH centres, parts of the Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) breast RT audit result were used in this study.

Results: 26/26 participating centres completed the questionnaire. After joining the trial, the number of centres routinely using tumour bed clips to guide whole-breast RT rose from 5 (19%) to 21 (81%). 20/26 (77%) centres now contour target volumes and organs at risk (OARs) in some or all patients compared with 14 (54%) before the trial. 14/26 (54%) centres offer inverse-planned IMRT for selected non-trial patients with breast cancer, and 10/14 (71%) have adopted the IMPORT HIGH trial protocol for target volume and OARs dose constraints. Only 2/26 (8%) centres used clip information routinely for breast treatment verification prior to IMPORT HIGH, a minority that has since risen to 7/26 (27%). Data on 1386 patients was included from the RCR audit. This suggested that more cases from IMPORT HIGH centres had surgical clips implanted (83 vs 67%), were treated using CT guided planning with full three-dimensional dose compensation (100 vs 75%), and were treated with photon boost RT (30 vs 8%).

Conclusion: The study suggests that participation in the IMPORT HIGH trial has played an important part in providing the guidance and support networks needed for the safe integration of advanced RT techniques, where appropriate, as a standard of care for breast cancer patients treated at participating cancer centres.

Advances in knowledge: We investigated the impact of the IMPORT HIGH trial on the adoption of advanced breast RT techniques in the UK and the trial has influenced non-trial breast RT techniques in terms of volume delineation, dosimetry, treatment delivery and verification.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United Kingdom