The Role of Boost Irradiation in the Conservative Treatment of Stage I-II Breast Cancer

Csaba POLGÁR1, János FODOR1, Tibor MAJOR1, Zsolt OROSZ2, György NÉMETH1

1Department of Radiotherapy, National Institute of Oncology, Budapest, Hungary
2Department of Pathology, National Institute of Oncology, Budapest, Hungary


In this article, we review the current status, indication, technical aspects, controversies, and future prospects of boost irradiation after breast conserving surgery (BCS). BCS and radiotherapy (RT) of the conserved breast became widely accepted in the last decades for the treatment of early invasive breast cancer. The standard technique of RT after breast conservation is to treat the whole breast up to a total dose of 45 to 50 Gy. However, there is no consensus among radiation oncologists about the necessity of boost dose to the tumor bed. Generally accepted criteria for identification of high risk subgroups, in which boost is recommended, have not been established yet. Further controversy exists regarding the optimal boost technique (electron vs. brachytherapy), and their impact on local tumor control and cosmesis. Based on the results of numerous retrospective and recently published prospective trials, the European brachytherapy society (GEC-ESTRO), as well as the American Brachytherapy Society has issued their guidelines in these topics. These guidelines will help clinicians in their medical decisions. Some aspects of boost irradiation still remain somewhat controversial. The final results of prospective boost trials with longer follow-up, involving analyses based on pathologically defined subgroups, will clarify these controversies. Preliminary results with recently developed boost techniques (intraoperative RT, CT-image based 3D conformal brachytherapy, and 3D virtual brachytherapy) are promising. However, more experience and longer follow-up are required to define whether these methods might improve local tumor control for breast cancer patients treated with conservative surgery and RT. Pathology & Oncology Research, Vol 7, Nr 4, 241-250, 2001

Key words: breast cancer; radiotherapy; boost; brachytherapy; electron; local control

Received: Sep 3, 2001; accepted: Oct 10, 2001
Correspondence: Csaba POLGÁR, Department of Radiotherapy, National Institute of Oncology, Ráth György u. 7-9. Budapest H-1122, Hungary; Tel: (36-1) 224-8600, Fax: (36-1) 224-8620; E-mail:

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