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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2007 Aug 1;68(5):1375-80. Epub 2007 Jun 4.

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy results in significant decrease in clinical toxicities compared with conventional wedge-based breast radiotherapy.

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  • 1Department of Radiation Oncology, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 48073, USA.



We have previously demonstrated that intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) with a static multileaf collimator process results in a more homogenous dose distribution compared with conventional wedge-based whole breast irradiation (WBI). In the present analysis, we reviewed the acute and chronic toxicity of this IMRT approach compared with conventional wedge-based treatment.


A total of 172 patients with Stage 0-IIB breast cancer were treated with lumpectomy followed by WBI. All patients underwent treatment planning computed tomography and received WBI (median dose, 45 Gy) followed by a boost to 61 Gy. Of the 172 patients, 93 (54%) were treated with IMRT, and the 79 patients (46%) treated with wedge-based RT in a consecutive fashion immediately before this cohort served as the control group. The median follow-up was 4.7 years.


A significant reduction in acute Grade 2 or worse dermatitis, edema, and hyperpigmentation was seen with IMRT compared with wedges. A trend was found toward reduced acute Grade 3 or greater dermatitis (6% vs. 1%, p = 0.09) in favor of IMRT. Chronic Grade 2 or worse breast edema was significantly reduced with IMRT compared with conventional wedges. No difference was found in cosmesis scores between the two groups. In patients with larger breasts (> or =1,600 cm(3), n = 64), IMRT resulted in reduced acute (Grade 2 or greater) breast edema (0% vs. 36%, p <0.001) and hyperpigmentation (3% vs. 41%, p = 0.001) and chronic (Grade 2 or greater) long-term edema (3% vs. 30%, p = 0.007).


The use of IMRT in the treatment of the whole breast results in a significant decrease in acute dermatitis, edema, and hyperpigmentation and a reduction in the development of chronic breast edema compared with conventional wedge-based RT.

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