Intensity modulated radiation therapy for breast cancer: current perspectives

Breast Cancer (Dove Med Press). 2017 Mar 6:9:121-126. doi: 10.2147/BCTT.S113025. eCollection 2017.


Background: Owing to highly conformed dose distribution, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has the potential to improve treatment results of radiotherapy (RT). Postoperative RT is a standard adjuvant treatment in conservative treatment of breast cancer (BC). The aim of this review is to analyze available evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on IMRT in BC, particularly in terms of reduction of side effects.

Methods: A literature search of the bibliographic database PubMed, from January 1990 through November 2016, was performed. Only RCTs published in English were included.

Results: Ten articles reporting data from 5 RCTs fulfilled the selection criteria and were included in our review. Three out of 5 studies enrolled only selected patients in terms of increased risk of toxicity. Three studies compared IMRT with standard tangential RT. One study compared the results of IMRT in the supine versus the prone position, and one study compared standard treatment with accelerated partial breast IMRT. Three studies reported reduced acute and/or late toxicity using IMRT compared with standard RT. No study reported improved quality of life.

Conclusion: IMRT seems able to reduce toxicity in selected patients treated with postoperative RT for BC. Further analyses are needed to better define patients who are candidates for this treatment modality.

Keywords: breast cancer; intensity modulated radiation therapy; literature review.

Publication types

  • Review