Pulsed reduced dose-rate radiotherapy: A novel locoregional retreatment strategy for breast cancer recurrence in the previously irradiated chest wall, axilla, or supraclavicular region

Gregory M. Richards, Wolfgang A. Tomé, H. Ian Robins, James A. Stewart, James S. Welsh, Peter A. Mahler, Steven P. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


Purpose Reirradiation of breast cancer locoregional recurrence (LRR) in the setting of prior post-mastectomy radiation poses a significant clinical challenge due to the high risk for severe toxicity. In an attempt to reduce these toxicities, we have developed pulsed reduced dose-rate radiotherapy (PRDR), a reirradiation technique in which a series of 0.2 Gy pulses separated by 3-min time intervals is delivered, creating an apparent dose rate of 0.0667 Gy/min. Here we describe our early experience with PRDR. Patients and methods We reirradiated 17 patients with LRR breast cancer to the chest wall, axilla, or supraclavicular region using PRDR. The median prior radiation dose was 60 Gy. We delivered a median PRDR dose of 54 Gy (range 40-66 Gy) in 1.8-2.0 Gy per fraction. Eight patients received concomitant low dose capecitabine for radiosensitization. The median treatment volume was 2,084 cm3 (range 843-7,881 cm3). Results At a median follow-up of 18 months (range 4-75 months) only 2 patients have had tumor failure in the treatment region. Estimated 2-year local control rate is 92%. Treatment was well tolerated with 4 patients experiencing grade 3 acute skin toxicity. Despite a median cumulative dose of 110 Gy (range 80-236 Gy), there has been only one grade 3 and one grade 4 late toxicity. Conclusions With a median follow-up of 18 months, PRDR appears to be an effective method to reirradiate large volumes of previously irradiated tissue in selected patients with locoregional chest wall, axilla, and supraclavicular recurrences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-313
Number of pages7
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2009
Externally publishedYes



  • Breast cancer
  • Radiotherapy
  • Recurrence
  • Reduced dose-rate
  • Reirradiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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