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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Feb 1;82(2):715-23. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2010.10.068. Epub 2011 Feb 23.

Randomized controlled trial of forward-planned intensity modulated radiotherapy for early breast cancer: interim results at 2 years.

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Department of Oncology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge University Hospitals, National Health Service Foundation Trust, Cambridge, United Kingdom.



This single-center randomized trial was designed to investigate whether intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) reduces late toxicity in patients with early-stage breast cancer.


The standard tangential plans of 1,145 nonselected patients were analyzed. The patients with inhomogeneous plans were randomized to a simple method of forward-planned IMRT or standard radiotherapy (RT). The primary endpoint was serial photographic assessment of breast shrinkage.


At 2 years, no significant difference was found in the development of any photographically assessed breast shrinkage between the patients randomized to the interventional or control group (odds ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 0.83-1.58; p = .41). The patients in the control group were more likely to develop telangiectasia than those in the IMRT group (odds ratio, 1.68; 95% confidence interval 1.13-2.40; p = .009). Poor baseline surgical cosmesis resulted in poor overall cosmesis at 2 years after RT. In patients who had good surgical cosmesis, those randomized to IMRT were less likely to deteriorate to a moderate or poor overall cosmesis than those in the control group (odds ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval, 0.39-1.03, p = .061).


IMRT can lead to a significant reduction in telangiectasia at comparatively early follow-up of only 2 years after RT completion. An important component of breast induration and shrinkage will actually result from the surgery and not from the RT. Surgical cosmesis is an important determinant of overall cosmesis and could partially mask the longer term benefits of IMRT at this early stage.

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