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Radiat Oncol. 2011 Jan 14;6:5. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-6-5.

Doses to internal organs for various breast radiation techniques--implications on the risk of secondary cancers and cardiomyopathy.

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Radiation Oncology Department, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Breast cancers are more frequently diagnosed at an early stage and currently have improved long term outcomes. Late normal tissue complications induced by adjuvant radiotherapy like secondary cancers or cardiomyopathy must now be avoided at all cost. Several new breast radiotherapy techniques have been developed and this work aims at comparing the scatter doses of internal organs for those techniques.


A CT-scan of a typical early stage left breast cancer patient was used to describe a realistic anthropomorphic phantom in the MCNP Monte Carlo code. Dose tally detectors were placed in breasts, the heart, the ipsilateral lung, and the spleen. Five irradiation techniques were simulated: whole breast radiotherapy 50 Gy in 25 fractions using physical wedge or breast IMRT, 3D-CRT partial breast radiotherapy 38.5 Gy in 10 fractions, HDR brachytherapy delivering 34 Gy in 10 treatments, or Permanent Breast 103Pd Seed Implant delivering 90 Gy.


For external beam radiotherapy the wedge compensation technique yielded the largest doses to internal organs like the spleen or the heart, respectively 2,300 mSv and 2.7 Gy. Smaller scatter dose are induced using breast IMRT, respectively 810 mSv and 1.1 Gy, or 3D-CRT partial breast irradiation, respectively 130 mSv and 0.7 Gy. Dose to the lung is also smaller for IMRT and 3D-CRT compared to the wedge technique. For multicatheter HDR brachytherapy a large dose is delivered to the heart, 3.6 Gy, the spleen receives 1,171 mSv and the lung receives 2,471 mSv. These values are 44% higher in case of a balloon catheter. In contrast, breast seeds implant is associated with low dose to most internal organs.


The present data support the use of breast IMRT or virtual wedge technique instead of physical wedges for whole breast radiotherapy. Regarding partial breast irradiation techniques, low energy source brachytherapy and external beam 3D-CRT appear safer than 192Ir HDR techniques.

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