Thermal Skin Damage During Reirradiation and Hyperthermia Is Time-Temperature Dependent

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2017 Jun 1;98(2):392-399. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.02.009. Epub 2017 Feb 16.


Purpose: To investigate the relationship of thermal skin damage (TSD) to time-temperature isoeffect levels for patients with breast cancer recurrence treated with reirradiation plus hyperthermia (reRT + HT), and to investigate whether the treatment history of previous treatments (scar tissue) is a risk factor for TSD.

Methods and materials: In this observational study, temperature characteristics of hyperthermia sessions were analyzed in 262 patients with recurrent breast cancer treated in the AMC between 2010 and 2014 with reirradiation and weekly hyperthermia for 1 hour. Skin temperature was measured using a median of 42 (range, 29-82) measurement points per hyperthermia session.

Results: Sixty-eight patients (26%) developed 79 sites of TSD, after the first (n=26), second (n=17), third (n=27), and fourth (n=9) hyperthermia session. Seventy percent of TSD occurred on or near scar tissue. Scar tissue reached higher temperatures than other skin tissue (0.4°C, P<.001). A total of 102 measurement points corresponded to actual TSD sites in 35 of 79 sessions in which TSD developed. Thermal skin damage sites had much higher maximum temperatures than non-TSD sites (2.8°C, P<.001). Generalized linear mixed models showed that the probability of TSD is related to temperature and thermal dose values (P<.001) and that scar tissue is more at risk (odds ratio 0.4, P<.001). Limiting the maximum temperature of a measurement point to 43.7°C would mean that the probability of observing TSD was at most 5%.

Conclusion: Thermal skin damage during reRT + HT for recurrent breast cancer was related to higher local temperatures and time-temperature isoeffect levels. Scar tissue reached higher temperatures than other skin tissue, and TSD occurred at lower temperatures and thermal dose values in scar tissue compared with other skin tissue. Indeed, TSD developed often on and around scar tissue from previous surgical procedures.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Burns / epidemiology
  • Burns / etiology*
  • Burns / pathology
  • Cicatrix / complications*
  • Combined Modality Therapy / adverse effects
  • Combined Modality Therapy / methods
  • Female
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hyperthermia, Induced / adverse effects*
  • Linear Models
  • Logistic Models
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local / therapy*
  • Re-Irradiation / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin / injuries*
  • Time Factors