Recent data show that axillary coverage can be obtained, but only through a selective CT-based treatment planning, as standard tangential fields are inadequate to deliver therapeutic doses. Currently, the replacement of axillary dissection with new techniques, such as sentinel node (SN) biopsy, makes it necessary to re-address the question about the real role of axillary irradiation, complicated by the differences in the anatomy of dissected and undissected axillary regions. The purpose of this paper is the dosimetric analysis of first axillary level coverage in standard irradiation of 15 breast-cancer patients treated with quadrantectomy and SN biopsy (negative finding). During surgery a clip on the site of the SN was positioned, marking the caudal margin of first axillary level. After the breast treatment plan was completed, the first axillary level was contoured on CT scans, from the site of the surgical clip up to the sternal manubrium, for coverage analysis with dose-volume histograms (DVHs) and three-dimensional isodose visualization. The maximum dose mean ranged from 5% to 80% of the prescribed dose (mean value 48.7%). The mean total dose received by the volume of interest was lower than 40 Gy in all but one patient. No patient had total irradiation of first nodal level; only one patient had 35% of the volume enclosed in the 100% isodose. Our analysis lead to the conclusion that therapeutic doses are not really delivered to first level axillary level nodes by a standard tangential field technique, and that specific treatment planning and beam arrangement are required when adequate coverage is necessary.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging