Study finds less dermatitis with IMRT therapy in breast cancer

June 3, 2008

Toronto - A Canadian research team reports that intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) reduces the incidence of radiation-induced dermatitis, compared to conventional radiation, in women being treated for breast cancer, according to Reuters Health.

Toronto - A Canadian research team reports that intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) reduces the incidence of radiation-induced dermatitis, compared to conventional radiation, in women being treated for breast cancer, according to Reuters Health.

IMRT is a novel technique that delivers a more even dose of radiation throughout the breast, relative to conventional radiation therapy. Unlike conventional radiation, IMRT tailors the radiation dose to the three-dimensional shape of the tumor.

As part of a randomized trial, the researchers, from Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, studied 170 women who had breast IMRT and 161 who had standard radiation therapy. The researchers noted that far fewer women who underwent IMRT treatment experienced scaling or peeling at the radiation site.

The study’s authors note that IMRT also led to a “dramatic improvement” in the distribution of radiation to the breast, compared with standard radiotherapy. The improvement translated into a 17 percent reduction in the frequency of scaling and peeling skin.

In a report of the study in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers conclude that as breast IMRT becomes more widely available, it “should be offered” to women instead of conventional radiation therapy. About one-third of breast cancer patients develop significant skin reactions after radiation therapy, often due to uneven distribution of radiation to the breast, according to the Reuters report.