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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1999 Jul 15;44(5):1155-64.

Intensity-modulated tangential beam irradiation of the intact breast.

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Department of Medical Physics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.



To evaluate the potential benefits of intensity modulated tangential beams in the irradiation of the intact breast.


Three-dimensional treatment planning was performed on five left and five right breasts using standard wedged and intensity modulated (IM) tangential beams. Optimal beam parameters were chosen using beams-eye-view display. For the standard plans, the optimal wedge angles were chosen based on dose distributions in the central plane calculated without inhomogeneity corrections, according to our standard protocol. Intensity-modulated plans were generated using an inverse planning algorithm and a standard set of target and critical structure optimization criteria. Plans were compared using multiple dose distributions and dose volume histograms for the planning target volume (PTV), ipsilateral lung, coronary arteries, and contralateral breast.


Significant improvements in the doses to critical structures were achieved using intensity modulation. Compared with a standard-wedged plan prescribed to 46 Gy, the dose from the IM plan encompassing 20% of the coronary artery region decreased by 25% (from 36 to 27 Gy) for patients treated to the left breast; the mean dose to the contralateral breast decreased by 42% (from 1.2 to 0.7 Gy); the ipsilateral lung volume receiving more than 46 Gy decreased by 30% (from 10% to 7%); the volume of surrounding soft tissue receiving more than 46 Gy decreased by 31% (from 48% to 33%). Dose homogeneity within the target volume improved greatest in the superior and inferior regions of the breast (approximately 8%), although some decrease in the medial and lateral high-dose regions (approximately 4%) was also observed.


Intensity modulation with a standard tangential beam arrangement significantly reduces the dose to the coronary arteries, ipsilateral lung, contralateral breast, and surrounding soft tissues. Improvements in dose homogeneity throughout the target volume can also be achieved, particularly in the superior and inferior regions of the breast. It remains to be seen whether the dosimetric improvements achievable with IMRT will lead to significant clinical outcome improvements.

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