Breast clinical target volume: HU-based glandular CTVs and ESTRO CTVs in modern and historical radiotherapy treatment planning

Strahlenther Onkol. 2022 Mar;198(3):229-235. doi: 10.1007/s00066-021-01839-5. Epub 2021 Sep 3.


Purpose: The current study aimed to compare contouring of glandular tissue only (gCTV) with the clinical target volume (CTV) as defined according to European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) guidelines (eCTV) and historically treated volumes (marked by wire and determined by palpation and anatomic landmarks) in breast cancer radiotherapy.

Methods: A total of 56 consecutive breast cancer patients underwent treatment planning based solely on anatomic landmarks/wire markings ("wire based"). From these treatment plans, the 50% and 95% isodoses were transferred as structures and compared to the following CT-based volumes: eCTV; a Hounsfield unit (HU)-based automatic contouring of the gCTV; and standardized planning target volumes (PTVs) generated with 1‑cm safety margins (resulting in the ePTVs and gPTVs, respectively).

Results: The 95% isodose volume of the wire-based plan was larger than the eCTV by 352.39 ± 176.06 cm3 but smaller than the ePTV by 157.58 ± 189.32 cm3. The 95% isodose was larger than the gCTV by 921.20 ± 419.78 cm3 and larger than the gPTV by 190.91 ± 233.49 cm3. Patients with larger breasts had significantly less glandular tissue than those with small breasts. There was a trend toward a lower percentage of glandular tissue in older patients.

Conclusion: Historical wire and anatomic landmarks-based treatment planning sufficiently covers the glandular tissue and the theoretical gPTV generated for the glandular tissue. Modern CT-based CTV and PTV definition according to ESTRO results in a larger treated volume than the historical wire-based techniques. HU-standardized glandular tissue contouring results in a significantly smaller CTV and might be an option for reducing the treatment volume and improving reproducibility of contouring between institutions.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Breast-conserving surgery; Radiation coverage; Radiotherapy planning, computer-assisted; Radiotherapy, adjuvant.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Breast
  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal* / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results