Conformal Electron Beam Radiotherapy Using Custom-Made Step Bolus for Postmastectomy Chest Wall Irradiation: An Institutional Experience

J Cancer Res Ther. Jul-Sep 2019;15(5):999-1004. doi: 10.4103/jcrt.JCRT_69_17.


Background: Postmastectomy radiation (PMRT) to the chest wall using electron beam treatment with uniform bolus was practiced at our institution. The planning target volume (PTV) included the chest wall and the internal mammary nodes (IMN) along with supraclavicular nodal regions. The varying thickness of the postmastectomy chest wall and the varying position of the IMN resulted in dose inhomogeneity in the PTV. In addition, there was the risk of increased lung and cardiac doses. In this prospective study, we report the making of a custom-made bolus using dental wax called "step bolus."

Materials and methods: From March 2010 to January 2011, 167 patients received PMRT. As conformal photon plans were not acceptable in 48 patients, they were treated with single energy electrons and custom-made bolus.

Results: Addition of the step bolus improved dose distribution to the PTV reduced the mean lung dose %, the mean heart dose % and lung dose (D10, D20, D30, D50, and D70). Forty-seven patients had Grade 2, and one patient had Grade 3 skin toxicity. Acute symptomatic radiation pneumonitis was observed in one patient. At 5 years, 29 patients were alive with a median follow-up of 32 months and no local recurrences were observed. One patient died of myocardial infarction unrelated to treatment, one patient did not come for follow-up, 22 patients had systemic metastases, and 24 patients were disease free.

Conclusion: A custom-made step bolus using dental wax can be used for tissue compensation in electron beam therapy with resulting good local disease control and acceptable toxicity.

Keywords: Bolus; conformal radiotherapy; dental wax; electron beam therapy; postmastectomy radiation.