Evidence from a breast cancer hypofractionated schedule: Late skin toxicity assessed by ultrasound

Valeria Landoni, Carolina Giordano, Annelisa Marsella, Biancamaria Saracino, Maria Grazia Petrongari, Anna Maria Ferraro, Lidia Strigari, Paola Pinnarò

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Background: Feasibility of whole breast hypofractionated radiotherapy schedules in breast conserving therapy is recognized however concerns remain about the role of the boost dose on the overall treatment's potential toxicity. In this study we report on the possibility to quantitatively evaluate radiation induced toxicity in patients treated with an abbreviated course with major concern in the irradiated boost region. Methods. Eighty-nine patients who underwent conservative surgery for early-stage breast cancer followed by adjuvant accelerated hypofractionated whole breast radiotherapy were included in this study to assess skin and subcutaneous tissue late toxicity by means of ultrasonographic quantitative examination. For each patient the skin thickness was measured at four positions: on the irradiated breast, in the boost region and in the corresponding positions in the contra-lateral not treated breast. All patients were scanned by the same radiologist to reduce potential inter-operator variability, the operator was blind to the scoring of the patient CTCv3 late toxicity as well as patient treatment characteristics. Ultrasound assessment and clinical evaluation were compared. Results: The median time between the end of adjuvant radiotherapy and ultrasound examination was 20.5 months. The measured mean skin thickness in the irradiated breast was 2.13 ± 0.72 mm while in the mirror region of the contra-lateral healthy breast was 1.61 ± 0.29 mm. The measured mean skin thickness in the irradiated boost region was 2.25 ± 0.79 mm versus 1.63 ± 0.33 mm in the corresponding region of contra-lateral healthy breast. The mean increment in skin thickness respect to the counterpart in the healthy breast was 0.52 ± 0.67 mm and 0.62 ± 0.74 mm for the breast and the boost region respectively. A significant direct correlation was found between the increment in skin thickness in the irradiated breast and in the boost region with fibrosis (G ≥ 1). Conclusions: In this study results from a breast cancer hypofractionated schedule in terms of late skin toxicity are reported. In particular our study confirms that late cutaneous reactions can be reliably assed by ultrasonographic examination, also discriminating between regions irradiated at different doses, and that this instrumental evaluation is in agreement with clinical stated toxicity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Breast cancer ultrasound tissue characterization
  • Hypofractionactionated radiotherapy
  • Radiation toxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology


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