Surface dose and acute skin reactions in external beam breast radiotherapy.

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Summer 2020

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Medical dosimetry : official journal of the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists


The biologically relevant depth for acute skin reactions in radiotherapy is 70 µm. The dose at this depth is difficult to measure or calculate and can be quite different than the dose at a depth of as little as 1 mm. For breast radiotherapy with medial and lateral tangential beams, the skin dose depends on both the contribution from the entrance beam and the exit beam. The skin dose has been estimated in a breast model hemi-ellipse accounting for field size, beam energy, obliquity, lack of backscatter, fractionation, size and shape of the hemi-ellipse. The dose has been held constant along the axis of symmetry of the hemi-ellipse by introducing modulation as in clinical IMRT practice. Dose distributions have been computed as a function of the polar angle from the center of the hemi-ellipse. The exit dose always dominates the entrance dose for all realistic parameters. As a result, the surface dose is higher for 18 MV than 6 MV over the entire surface for all reasonable sizes and shapes of the hemi-ellipse. The results of these calculations suggest that substituting an 18 MV beam for a 6 MV beam to achieve greater skin sparing may have just the opposite effect. The ratio of the surface dose to the mid-depth dose ranges from about 35% at polar angle 0o to up to 70% at polar angle 80o. The dose rises sharply at angles above 30o. The surface dose rises moderately at all angles as the size of the hemi-ellipse increases. The effect of shape is somewhat complex: as the breast becomes flatter, doses at intermediate angles increase, but doses at small and large angles decrease. The biologically effective dose for erythema and moist desquamation is about 2 to 3 Gy higher at all polar angles for conventional fractionation (2.00 Gy × 25 fractions) than for hypofractionation (2.66 Gy × 16).





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