Radiographic predictors of IMRT for treating regional lymph nodes in breast cancer

Mary K. Dean, William Amestoy, Cristiane Takita, Stuart E. Samuels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Regional nodal irradiation (RNI) is an essential part of the treatment of high risk early stage (Stage IIb) and locally advanced (Stage III) breast cancer. Acceptable radiation plans can usually be achieved using 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy with deep-inspiration breath hold to limit dose to the heart, although in some cases intensity-modulated radiation therapy produces superior results. The goal of this study is to identify radiographic parameters that predict the need for IMRT when delivering RNI. We retrospectively examined breast cancer patients treated with comprehensive RNI including internal mammary lymph nodes, supraclavicular lymph nodes, and undissected axillary lymph nodes at our institution from January 2016 to February 2018. Radiographic parameters including lung volume, internal mammary lymph nodes depth, modified central lung distance (mCLD), tangent length, and target height were recorded. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression was performed using IMRT as a binary endpoint (yes/no). A total of 46 patients were evaluated, of which 9 (20%) required IMRT. Five of the 9 (56%) IMRT patients were postmastectomy with a tissue expander in place. There was an increased likelihood of IMRT per 0.5 cm increase in mCLD (odds ratios [OR]: 3.27; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.39 to 9.63; p = 0.01) and per 1 cm increase in target height (OR: 1.77; 95% CI: 1.08 to 3.40; p = 0.04). A threshold value of 3.38 cm was identified for mCLD (OR 10.3; 95% CI: 2.14 to 61.4; p value = 0.005), and 25.2 cm for target height (OR 10.9; 95% CI: 2.19 to 82.7; p value = 0.007). When delivering RNI, larger values of mCLD and target height corresponded to the use of IMRT. Further investigations are warranted to confirm these findings, which may improve the efficiency of the treatment planning process and in turn patient care.



  • Breast cancer
  • IMRT
  • Radiographic predictors
  • Regional nodal irradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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