Tumour bed delineation for partial breast/breast boost radiotherapy: what is the optimal number of implanted markers?

Anna Nm Kirby, Rajesh Jena, Emma J Harris, Phil M Evans, Clare Crowley, Deborah L Gregory, Charlotte E Coles
Radiotherapy and Oncology: Journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology 2013, 106 (2): 231-5

PURPOSE: International consensus has not been reached regarding the optimal number of implanted tumour bed (TB) markers for partial breast/breast boost radiotherapy target volume delineation. Four common methods are: insertion of 6 clips (4 radial, 1 deep and 1 superficial), 5 clips (4 radial and 1 deep), 1 clip at the chest wall, and no clips. We compared TB volumes delineated using 6, 5, 1 and 0 clips in women who have undergone wide-local excision (WLE) of breast cancer (BC) with full-thickness closure of the excision cavity, in order to determine the additional margin required for breast boost or partial breast irradiation (PBI) when fewer than 6 clips are used.

METHODS: Ten patients with invasive ductal BC who had undergone WLE followed by implantation of six fiducial markers (titanium clips) each underwent CT imaging for radiotherapy planning purposes. Retrospective processing of the DICOM image datasets was performed to remove markers and associated imaging artefacts, using an in-house software algorithm. Four observers outlined TB volumes on four different datasets for each case: (1) all markers present (CT6M); (2) the superficial marker removed (CT(5M)); (3) all but the chest wall marker removed (CTCW); (4) all markers removed (CT(0M)). For each observer, the additional margin required around each of TB(0M), TBCW, and TB(5M) in order to encompass TB(6M) was calculated. The conformity level index (CLI) and differences in centre-of-mass (COM) between observers were quantified for CT(0M), CTCW, CT(5M), CT(6M).

RESULTS: The overall median additional margins required to encompass TB(6M) were 8mm (range 0-28 mm) for TB(0M), 5mm (range 1-13 mm) for TBCW, and 2mm (range 0-7 mm) for TB(5M). CLI were higher for TB volumes delineated using CT(6M) (0.31) CT(5M) (0.32) than for CTCW (0.19) and CT(0M) (0.15).

CONCLUSIONS: In women who have undergone WLE of breast cancer with full-thickness closure of the excision cavity and who are proceeding to PBI or breast boost RT, target volume delineation based on 0 or 1 implanted markers is not recommended as large additional margins are required to account for uncertainty over true TB location. Five implanted markers (one deep and four radial) are likely to be adequate assuming the addition of a standard 10-15 mm TB-CTV margin. Low CLI values for all TB volumes reflect the sensitivity of low volumes to small differences in delineation and are unlikely to be clinically significant for TB(5M) and TB(6M) in the context of adequate TB-CTV margins.

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