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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 1993 Oct 20;27(3):561-6.

The use of iodine-125 seeds as a substitute for iridium-192 seeds in temporary interstitial breast implants.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, William Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak, MI 48073-6769.



We have previously reported that the use of iodine-125 seeds in temporary plastic tube interstitial implants may be more advantageous than iridium-192 seeds due to less patient and personnel radiation exposure, reduced shielding requirements, and significant dosimetric advantages. The impact of this isotope on the rate of local control and cosmetic outcome in patients with early stage breast cancer treated with interstitial implants for their irradiation "boost" remains to be defined.


We reviewed the treatment outcome of 402 consecutive cases of Stage I and II breast cancer undergoing breast conserving therapy between 1/1/80 and 12/31/87. All patients underwent excisional biopsy and received 45-50 Gy to the entire breast followed by a boost to the tumor bed using either electrons (104 patients), photons (15 patients), or an interstitial implant with either iridium-192 (197 patients) or iodine-125 (86 patients) to at least 60 Gy. Iodine-125 implants were primarily performed in patients with significant risk factors for local recurrence (71%) or in patients with large breasts (17%). Local tumor control and cosmetic outcome were assessed and contrasted between patients boosted with each modality.


With a median follow-up of 59.3 months, 18 (4.5%) patients developed a recurrence of the tumor in the treated breast (4.4% 5-year actuarial rate). No statistically significant differences in the 5-year actuarial rate of local recurrence were noted between patients boosted with either iodine-125 (3.0%), iridium-192 (3.8%), electrons (5.4%), or photons (0%). Likewise, no significant differences in the percentage of patients obtaining good/excellent cosmetic results were noted between iodine-125 (93%), iridium-192 (88%), electrons (90%), or photons (82%).


We conclude that patients with Stage I and II breast cancer undergoing breast conserving therapy and judged to be candidates for boosts with interstitial implants can be effectively treated with iodine-125 seeds. Use of this isotope results in less patient and personnel irradiation exposure and a better dose distribution than iridium-192, since dose optimization can be routinely employed. Overall, local control and cosmetic outcome have been excellent and are similar to either iridium-192, electrons, or photons.

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