Prospective Study of Breast Radiation Dermatitis Academic Article uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Despite clear benefits of radiotherapy (RT) for breast cancer, there are numerous side effects. Radiation dermatitis has a significant impact on quality of life and can result in treatment interruptions or cessation. The purpose of this study was to prospectively follow breast radiation dermatitis and determine trends including peak toxicity. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Upon initiation of RT treatment, to assess skin reaction, each patient was seen weekly by the healthcare team, or contacted via telephone to assess patient-reported symptoms. Weekly progression of radiation dermatitis was assessed using the Common Terminology Criteria for Adverse Events (CTCAE), version 4.03. Patients were stratified for analysis of radiation dermatitis based on RT technique and dosage. RESULTS: A total of 148 patients with 2 or more skin assessments were analyzed. The majority of patients received 2-field tangential RT (64.2%) with a dose of 5000 cGy in 25 fractions. Overall, patients experienced the most Grade 2 CTCAE toxicity (61.9%) 2 weeks after completion of RT; Grade 3 toxicity also peaked at this time (8.3%). Regardless of stratification by RT technique or by dosage of RT, Grade 2 and 3 toxicities consistently peaked at 1 or 2 weeks after RT. CONCLUSIONS: Breast radiation dermatitis appears to peak approximately 2 weeks after RT. Treatment factors such as technique or dosing regimen do not appear to have a substantial effect on radiation dermatitis, but our study was limited by small sample size. This study provides additional evidence that radiation dermatitis should continue to be followed closely, especially in the 2 weeks following RT.


  • Drost, Leah
  • Li, Nim
  • Vesprini, Danny
  • Sangha, Arneet
  • Lee, Justin
  • Leung, Eric
  • Rakovitch, Eileen
  • Yee, Caitlin
  • Chow, Edward
  • Ruschin, Mark

publication date

  • October 2018