Partial breast brachytherapy after lumpectomy: low-dose-rate and high-dose-rate experience

Douglas W Arthur, Derrick Koo, Robert D Zwicker, Shidong Tong, Harry D Bear, Brian J Kaplan, Brian D Kavanagh, Laurel A Warwicke, Diane Holdford, Cyrus Amir, Kellie J Archer, Rupert K Schmidt-Ullrich
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2003 July 1, 56 (3): 681-9

PURPOSE: The use of partial breast brachytherapy (PBB) after lumpectomy for selected patients with early-stage breast cancer reduces the adjuvant radiotherapy treatment time to <1 week. Despite the advantages of accelerated treatment, maintaining an acceptable cosmetic outcome is important. In a cohort of patients who received low-dose-rate (LDR) or high-dose-rate (HDR) PBB after lumpectomy, the clinical characteristics and treatment parameters were analyzed to identify predictors for an unfavorable cosmetic outcome.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Early-stage breast cancer patients with clear resection margins and 0-3 positive lymph nodes were eligible for PBB. Uniform guidelines for target definition and brachytherapy catheter placement were applied. The HDR PBB dose was 34 Gy in 10 fractions within 5 days, and the LDR dose was 45 Gy given at a rate of 50 cGy/h. The end points included incidence of radiation recall reaction, telangiectasias, and cosmetic-altering fibrosis.

RESULTS: Between 1995 and 2000, 44 patients with early-stage breast cancer received PBB without adjuvant external beam radiotherapy after lumpectomy (31 HDR PBB, 13 LDR PBB). After a median follow-up of 42 months (range 18-86), all patients remained locally controlled. The overall rate of good/excellent cosmetic outcome was 79.6% overall and 90% with HDR PBB. Radiation recall reactions occurred in 43% of patients (6 of 14) who received adriamycin. LDR PBB and adriamycin were significant predictors for late unfavorable cosmetic changes in univariate analysis (p = 0.003 and p = 0.005, respectively).

CONCLUSION: Although a high rate of local control and good/excellent cosmetic outcome is provided with HDR PBB, the risk of unfavorable cosmetic changes when treated with both LDR PBB and adriamycin is noteworthy. This suggests that HDR PBB is preferred in patients for whom adriamycin is indicated.

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