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1.  Ultrasound elastography as an objective diagnostic measurement tool for lymphoedema of the treated breast in breast cancer patients following breast conserving surgery and radiotherapy 
Radiology and Oncology  2012;46(4):284-295.
Background.
Lymphoedema of the operated and irradiated breast is a common complication following early breast cancer treatment. There is no consensus on objective diagnostic criteria and standard measurement tools. This study investigates the use of ultrasound elastography as an objective quantitative measurement tool for the diagnosis of parenchymal breast oedema.
Patients and methods.
The elasticity ratio of the subcutis, measured with ultrasound elastography, was compared with high-frequency ultrasound parameters and subjective symptoms in twenty patients, bilaterally, prior to and following breast conserving surgery and breast irradiation.
Results.
Elasticity ratio of the subcutis of the operated breast following radiation therapy increased in 88.9% of patients, was significantly higher than prior to surgery, unlike the non operated breast and significantly higher than the non operated breast, unlike preoperative results. These results were significantly correlated with visibility of the echogenic line, measured with high-frequency ultrasound. Big preoperative bra cup size was a significant risk factor for the development of breast oedema.
Conclusions.
Ultrasound elastography is an objective quantitative measurement tool for the diagnosis of parenchymal breast oedema, in combination with other objective diagnostic criteria. Further research with longer follow-up and more patients is necessary to confirm our findings.
doi:10.2478/v10019-012-0033-z
PMCID: PMC3572897  PMID: 23412910
early breast cancer; breast conserving surgery; breast irradiation; lymphoedema of the breast; breast oedema; ultrasound elastography
2.  Health-related quality of life in survivors of stage I-II breast cancer: randomized trial of post-operative conventional radiotherapy and hypofractionated tomotherapy 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:495.
Background
Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) assessment is a key component of clinical oncology trials. However, few breast cancer trials comparing adjuvant conventional radiotherapy (CR) and hypofractionated tomotherapy (TT) have investigated HRQOL. We compared HRQOL in stage I-II breast cancer patients who were randomized to receive either CR or TT. Tomotherapy uses an integrated computed tomography scanner to improve treatment accuracy, aiming to reduce the adverse effects of radiotherapy.
Methods
A total of 121 stage I–II breast cancer patients who had undergone breast conserving surgery (BCS) or mastectomy (MA) were randomly assigned to receive either CR or TT. CR patients received 25 × 2 Gy over 5 weeks, and BCS patients also received a sequential boost of 8 × 2 Gy over 2 weeks. TT patients received 15 × 2.8 Gy over 3 weeks, and BCS patients also received a simultaneous integrated boost of 15 × 0.6 Gy over 3 weeks. Patients completed the EORTC QLQ-C30 and BR23 questionnaires. The mean score (± standard error) was calculated at baseline, the end of radiotherapy, and at 3 months and 1, 2, and 3 years post-radiotherapy. Data were analyzed by the 'intention-to-treat' principle.
Results
On the last day of radiotherapy, patients in both treatment arms had decreased global health status and functioning scores; increased fatigue (clinically meaningful in both treatment arms), nausea and vomiting, and constipation; decreased arm symptoms; clinically meaningful increased breast symptoms in CR patients and systemic side effects in TT patients; and slightly decreased body image and future perspective.
At 3 months post-radiotherapy, TT patients had a clinically significant increase in role- and social-functioning scores and a clinically significant decrease in fatigue. The post-radiotherapy physical-, cognitive- and emotional-functioning scores improved faster in TT patients than CR patients. TT patients also had a better long-term recovery from fatigue than CR patients. ANOVA with the Bonferroni correction did not show any significant differences between groups in HRQOL scores.
Conclusions
TT patients had a better improvement in global health status and role- and cognitive-functioning, and a faster recovery from fatigue, than CR patients. These results suggest that a shorter fractionation schedule may reduce the adverse effects of treatment.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-495
PMCID: PMC3492203  PMID: 23098579
Health-related quality of life; Breast cancer; Hypofractionated radiotherapy; Adjuvant treatment; Randomized trial
3.  Early Contralateral Shoulder-Arm Morbidity in Breast Cancer Patients Enrolled in a Randomized Trial of Post-Surgery Radiation Therapy 
Introduction
Shoulder/arm morbidity is a common complication of breast cancer surgery and radiotherapy (RT), but little is known about acute contralateral morbidity.
Methods
Patients were 118 women enrolled in a RT trial. Arm volume and shoulder mobility were assessed before and 1–3 months after RT. Correlations and linear regression were used to analyze changes affecting ipsilateral and contralateral arms, and changes affecting relative interlimb differences (RID).
Results
Changes affecting one limb correlated with changes affecting the other limb. Arm volume between the two limbs correlated (R = 0.57). Risk factors were weight increase and axillary dissection. Contralateral and ipsilateral loss of abduction strongly correlated (R = 0.78). Changes of combined RID exceeding 10% affected the ipsilateral limb in 25% of patients, and the contralateral limb in 18%. Aromatase inhibitor therapy was significantly associated with contralateral loss of abduction.
Conclusions
High incidence of early contralateral arm morbidity warrants further investigations.
doi:10.4137/BCBCR.S9362
PMCID: PMC3418149  PMID: 22904635
early breast cancer; short-course radiation therapy; image-guided radiation therapy; shoulder/arm morbidity; breast cancer-related lymphedema
4.  Short course radiotherapy with simultaneous integrated boost for stage I-II breast cancer, early toxicities of a randomized clinical trial 
Background
TomoBreast is a unicenter, non-blinded randomized trial comparing conventional radiotherapy (CR) vs. hypofractionated Tomotherapy (TT) for post-operative treatment of breast cancer. The purpose of the trial is to compare whether TT can reduce heart and pulmonary toxicity. We evaluate early toxicities.
Methods
The trial started inclusion in May 2007 and reached its recruitment in August 2011. Women with stage T1-3N0M0 or T1-2N1M0 breast cancer completely resected by tumorectomy (BCS) or by mastectomy (MA) who consented to participate were randomized, according to a prescribed computer-generated randomization schedule, between control arm of CR 25x2 Gy/5 weeks by tangential fields on breast/chest wall, plus supraclavicular-axillary field if node-positive, and sequential boost 8x2 Gy/2 weeks if BCS (cumulative dose 66 Gy/7 weeks), versus experimental TT arm of 15x2.8 Gy/3 weeks, including nodal areas if node-positive and simultaneous integrated boost of 0.6 Gy if BCS (cumulative dose 51 Gy/3 weeks). Outcomes evaluated were the pulmonary and heart function. Comparison of proportions used one-sided Fisher's exact test.
Results
By May 2010, 70 patients were randomized and had more than 1 year of follow-up. Out of 69 evaluable cases, 32 were assigned to CR (21 BCS, 11 MA), 37 to TT (20 BCS, 17 MA). Skin toxicity of grade ≥1 at 2 years was 60% in CR, vs. 30% in TT arm. Heart function showed no significant difference for left ventricular ejection fraction at 2 years, CR 4.8% vs. TT 4.6%. Pulmonary function tests at 2 years showed grade ≥1 decline of FEV1 in 21% of CR, vs. 15% of TT and decline of DLco in 29% of CR, vs. 7% of TT (P = 0.05).
Conclusions
There were no unexpected severe toxicities. Short course radiotherapy of the breast with simultaneous integrated boost over 3 weeks proved feasible without excess toxicities. Pulmonary tests showed a slight trend in favor of Tomotherapy, which will need confirmation with longer follow-up of patients.
Trail registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00459628
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-80
PMCID: PMC3432009  PMID: 22656865
Early breast cancer; Hypofractionation; Simultaneous integrated boost (SIB); Image guided radiation treatment (IGRT); Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT)
5.  Scapula alata in early breast cancer patients enrolled in a randomized clinical trial of post-surgery short-course image-guided radiotherapy 
Background
Scapula alata (SA) is a known complication of breast surgery associated with palsy of the serratus anterior, but it is seldom mentioned. We evaluated the risk factors associated with SA and the relationship of SA with ipsilateral shoulder/arm morbidity in a series of patients enrolled in a trial of post-surgery radiotherapy (RT).
Methods
The trial randomized women with completely resected stage I-II breast cancer to short-course image-guided RT, versus conventional RT. SA, arm volume and shoulder-arm mobility were measured prior to RT and at one to three months post-RT. Shoulder/arm morbidities were computed as a post-RT percentage change relative to pre-RT measurements.
Results
Of 119 evaluable patients, 13 (= 10.9%) had pre-RT SA. Age younger than 50 years old, a body mass index less than 25 kg/m2, and axillary lymph node dissection were significant risk factors, with odds ratios of 4.8 (P = 0.009), 6.1 (P = 0.016), and 6.1 (P = 0.005), respectively. Randomization group was not significant. At one to three months’ post-RT, mean arm volume increased by 4.1% (P = 0.036) and abduction decreased by 8.6% (P = 0.046) among SA patients, but not among non-SA patients. SA resolved in eight, persisted in five, and appeared in one patient.
Conclusion
The relationship of SA with lower body mass index suggests that SA might have been underestimated in overweight patients. Despite apparent resolution of SA in most patients, pre-RT SA portended an increased risk of shoulder/arm morbidity. We argue that SA warrants further investigation. Incidentally, the observation of SA occurring after RT in one patient represents the second case of post-RT SA reported in the literature.
doi:10.1186/1477-7819-10-86
PMCID: PMC3488523  PMID: 22591589
Breast cancer; Surgery; Radiation treatment; Complications; Winged scapula; Scapular winging; Long thoracic nerve; Multiple outcomes; Shoulder/arm morbidity; Lymphedema

Results 1-5 (5)