Background: The shift from conventional two-dimensional (2D) to three-dimensional (3D)conformal target definition and dose-planning seems to have introduced volumetric as well as geometric changes. The purpose of this study was to compare coverage of computed tomography (CT)-based breast and boost planning target volumes (PTV), absolute volumes irradiated, and dose delivered to the organs at risk with conventional 2D and 3D-conformal breast conserving radiotherapy.
Methods: Twenty-five patients with left-sided breast cancer were subject of CT-guided target definition and 3D-conformal dose-planning, and conventionally defined target volumes and treatment plans were reconstructed on the planning CT. Accumulated dose-distributions were calculated for the conventional and 3D-conformal dose-plans, taking into account a prescribed dose of 50 Gy for the breast plans and 16 Gy for the boost plans.
Results: With conventional treatment plans, CT-based breast and boost PTVs received the intended dose in 78% and 32% of the patients, respectively, and smaller volumes received the prescribed breast and boost doses compared with 3D-conformal dose-planning. The mean lung dose, the volume of the lungs receiving > 20 Gy, the mean heart dose, and volume of the heart receiving > 30 Gy were significantly less with conventional treatment plans. Specific areas within the breast and boost PTVs systematically received a lower than intended dose with conventional treatment plans.
Conclusion: The shift towards CT-guided target definition and planning as the golden standard for breast conserving radiotherapy has resulted in improved target coverage at the cost of larger irradiated volumes and an increased dose delivered to organs at risk. Tissue is now included into the breast and boost target volumes that was never explicitly defined or included with conventional treatment. Therefore, a coherent definition of the breast and boost target volumes is needed, based on clinical data confirming tumour control probability and normal tissue complication probability with the use of 3D-conformal radiotherapy.