BACKGROUND: Intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) could be not-inferior to external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) in selected patients, but toxicities, self-perception of body image, quality of life, and resumption of work or daily activities have been poorly explored. The aim of the present study was to compare these outcomes between EBRT, IORT full-dose (IORT-f) and IORT boost (IORT-b).
METHODS: 443 consecutive patients, candidates for breast-conserving surgery, were included: EBRT was performed in 220 patients (49.7%), IORT-f in 140 patients (31.6%), and IORT-b in 83 patients (18.7%). Radiotherapy-related toxicities were registered. Patients were evaluated at 6 months for Body Image after Breast Cancer Questionnaire (BIBCQ) to assess possible changes in self-perception of body image and limitations. A second questionnaire explored the impact of EBRT, IORT-f and IORT-b on resumption of work and normal daily activities.
RESULTS: EBRT had a higher risk of breast fibrosis and retraction (OR 3.58, 95% CI 1.024-12.526, p = 0.046) and breast edema (OR 6, 95% CI 2.077-17.335, p = 0.001) compared to IORT-f, but a lower risk of seroma compared to IORT-b (OR 0.36, 95% CI 0.166-0.785, p = 0.01). The BIBCQ scores showed a better outcome in arm concerns with IORT-f (-3.3) vs. IORT-b (-1.3, p = 0.002) and EBRT (-1.7, p = 0.006), although biased by the lower rate in axillary dissections. Return to daily activities occurred after 70.6 days with EBRT vs. 41 days with IORT-f (p < 0.0001) and 53.3 days with IORT-b (p = 0.07), without any effect of age or axillary dissection.
CONCLUSION: IORT could reduce adverse effects, allowing faster resumption of job and houseworks.