BACKGROUND: Radiotherapy after breast surgery decreases locoregional recurrence and improves survival. This is not without risks from radiation exposure and could have implications in clinical practice. Our study investigates the correlation between tumour location and radiation dose to the heart. METHODS: Left-sided breast cancer patients who had radiotherapy at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary in 2010 were identified. Tumour location was established from notes and imaging. Radiotherapy planning scans were reviewed, and cardiac doses calculated. The mean cardiac dose, maximum dose and volume of the heart in the field, along with V5-V40, were determined. RESULTS: 40 patients had mastectomies and 118 breast conserving surgery. The median percentage of the heart in the field and the Interquartile Range was 0.59% (0.03-1.74) for all patients, with the highest for lower inner quadrant (LIQ) tumours 1.20% (0.29-2.40), followed by mastectomy 0.94% (0.02-1.82). The mean heart dose showed a higher median for mastectomies 1.59 Gy (1.00-1.94), followed by LIQ tumours 1.58 Gy (1.31-2.28), with an overall median of 1.42 Gy (1.13-1.95). The median percentage of the heart in the field, the mean cardiac dose and V5-V30 did not reach statistical significance, however, V40 and the maximum dose did. CONCLUSIONS: The benefits of radiotherapy after breast cancer surgery are established, but with potential harm from cardiac exposure. Our cohort showed higher radiation exposure to the heart in patients with LIQ tumours and mastectomies but reached significance only for V40 and maximum dose. This highlights tumour location as a potentially important risk factor for cardiac exposure with breast radiotherapy.
- Breast cancer
- cardiac dose