November 1st 2004
Conventional radiotherapeutic treatment for early and advancedbreast cancer has been based on broad-field radiation treatment principlesthat date back several decades. Although these strategies havebeen successful, newer techniques now offer the ability to incorporateimproved target imaging, dosimetric planning, and treatment deliveryinto the treatment design. These newer techniques include acceleratedpartial-breast irradiation and hypofractionated whole-breast irradiationfor early-stage breast cancer, and intensity-modulated radiotherapy(IMRT) for both early and advanced breast cancer. Accelerated partial-breast irradiation and hypofractionated whole-breast radiotherapyare treatment approaches that promise both reduced overall treatmenttimes and the potential for increased use of breast-conservation therapy.IMRT offers unparalleled dose homogeneity and conformality thatenables dose reduction to normal structures with the potential to reducetreatment toxicity and improve cosmesis. Based on the publishedliterature, an increasing number of treatment facilities are offering treatmentwith these techniques. However, further clinical study remainsimportant to thoroughly define the appropriate clinical setting, patientselection criteria, and limitations for each of these innovative treatmentapproaches.