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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2002 Dec 1;54(5):1336-44.

Optimizing breast cancer treatment efficacy with intensity-modulated radiotherapy.

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



To present our clinical experience using intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) to improve dose uniformity and treatment efficacy in patients with early-stage breast cancer treated with breast-conserving therapy.


A total of 281 patients with Stage 0, I, and II breast cancer treated with breast-conserving therapy received whole breast RT after lumpectomy using our static, multileaf collimator (sMLC) IMRT technique. The technical and practical aspects of implementing this technique on a large scale in the clinic were analyzed. The clinical outcome of patients treated with this technique was also reviewed.


The median time required for three-dimensional alignment of the tangential fields and dosimetric IMRT planning was 40 and 45 min, respectively. The median number of sMLC segments required per patient to meet the predefined dose-volume constraints was 6 (range 3-12). The median percentage of the treatment given with open fields (no sMLC segments) was 83% (range 38-96%), and the median treatment time was <10 min. The median volume of breast receiving 105% of the prescribed dose was 11% (range 0-67.6%). The median breast volume receiving 110% of the prescribed dose was 0% (range 0-39%), and the median breast volume receiving 115% of the prescribed dose was also 0%. A total of 157 patients (56%) experienced Radiation Therapy Oncology Group Grade 0 or I acute skin toxicity; 102 patients (43%) developed Grade II acute skin toxicity and only 3 (1%) experienced Grade III toxicity. The cosmetic results at 12 months (95 patients analyzable) were rated as excellent/good in 94 patients (99%). No skin telengiectasias, significant fibrosis, or persistent breast pain was noted.


The use of intensity modulation with our sMLC technique for tangential whole breast RT is an efficient method for achieving a uniform and standardized dose throughout the whole breast. Strict dose-volume constraints can be readily achieved resulting in both uniform coverage of breast tissue and a potential reduction in acute and chronic toxicities. Because the median number of sMLC segments required per patient is only 6, the treatment time is equivalent to conventional wedged-tangent treatment techniques. As a result, widespread implementation of this technology can be achieved with minimal imposition on clinic resources and time constraints.

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