Comparative Effectiveness Analysis of 3D-Conformal Radiation Therapy Versus Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) in a Prospective Multicenter Cohort of Patients With Breast Cancer

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International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics


PURPOSE: Simple intensity modulation of radiation therapy reduces acute toxicity compared with 2-dimensional techniques in adjuvant breast cancer treatment, but it remains unknown whether more complex or inverse-planned intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) offers an advantage over forward-planned, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Using prospective data regarding patients receiving adjuvant whole breast radiation therapy without nodal irradiation at 23 institutions from 2011 to 2018, we compared the incidence of acute toxicity (moderate-severe pain or moist desquamation) in patients receiving 3DCRT versus IMRT (either inverse planned or, if forward-planned, using ≥5 segments per gantry angle). We evaluated associations between technique and toxicity using multivariable models with inverse-probability-of-treatment weighting, adjusting for treatment facility as a random effect.

RESULTS: Of 1185 patients treated with 3DCRT and conventional fractionation, 650 (54.9%) experienced acute toxicity; of 774 treated with highly segmented forward-planned IMRT, 458 (59.2%) did; and of 580 treated with inverse-planned IMRT, 245 (42.2%) did. Of 1296 patients treated with hypofractionation and 3DCRT, 432 (33.3%) experienced acute toxicity; of 709 treated with highly segmented forward-planned IMRT, 227 (32.0%) did; and of 623 treated with inverse-planned IMRT, 164 (26.3%) did. On multivariable analysis with inverse-probability-of-treatment weighting, the odds ratio for acute toxicity after inverse-planned IMRT versus 3DCRT was 0.64 (95% confidence interval, 0.45-0.91) with conventional fractionation and 0.41 (95% confidence interval, 0.26-0.65) with hypofractionation.

CONCLUSIONS: This large, prospective, multicenter comparative effectiveness study found a significant benefit from inverse-planned IMRT compared with 3DCRT in reducing acute toxicity of breast radiation therapy. Future research should identify the dosimetric differences that mediate this association and evaluate cost-effectiveness.

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ePub ahead of print