This study compares photon and proton therapy plans for patients with synchronous bilateral early breast cancer and estimates risks of early and late radiation-induced toxicities.

Materials and Methods

Twenty-four patients with synchronous bilateral early breast cancer receiving adjuvant radiation therapy using photons, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy or volumetric modulated arc therapy, were included and competing pencil beam scanning proton therapy plans were created. Risks of dermatitis, pneumonitis, acute esophageal toxicity, lung and breast fibrosis, hypothyroidism, secondary lung and esophageal cancer and coronary artery events were estimated using published dose-response relationships and normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) models.


The primary clinical target volume V95% and/or nodal clinical target volume V90% were less than 95% in 17 photon therapy plans and none of the proton plans. Median NTCP of radiation dermatitis ≥ grade 2 was 18.3% (range, 5.4-41.7) with photon therapy and 58.4% (range, 31.4-69.7) with proton therapy. Median excess absolute risk (EAR) of secondary lung cancer at age 80 for current and former smokers was 4.8% (range, 0.0-17.0) using photons and 2.7% (range, 0.0-13.6) using protons. Median EAR of coronary event at age 80, assuming all patients have preexisting cardiac risk factors, was 1.0% (range, 0.0-5.6) with photons and 0.2% (range, 0.0-1.3) with protons.


Proton therapy plans improved target coverage and reduced risk of coronary artery event and secondary lung cancer while increasing the risk of radiation dermatitis.

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