Pretreatment staging positron emission tomography/computed tomography in patients with inflammatory breast cancer influences radiation treatment field designs

Gary V. Walker, Naoki Niikura, Wei Yang, Eric Rohren, Vicente Valero, Wendy A. Woodward, Ricardo H. Alvarez, Anthony Lucci, Naoto T. Ueno, Thomas A. Buchholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Purpose: Positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) is increasingly being utilized for staging of inflammatory breast cancer (IBC). The purpose of this study was to define how pretreatment PET/CT studies affected postmastectomy radiation treatment (PMRT) planning decisions for IBC. Methods and Materials: We performed a retrospective analysis of 62 patients diagnosed with IBC between 2004 and 2009, who were treated with PMRT in our institution and who had a staging PET/CT within 3 months of diagnosis. Patients received a baseline physical examination, staging mammography, ultrasonographic examination of breast and draining lymphatics, and chest radiography; most patients also had a bone scan (55 patients), liver imaging (52 patients), breast MRI (46 patients), and chest CT (25 patients). We compared how PET/CT findings affected PMRT, assuming that standard PMRT would target the chest wall, level III axilla, supraclavicular fossa, and internal mammary chain (IMC). Any modification of target volumes, field borders, or dose prescriptions was considered a change. Results: PET/CT detected new areas of disease in 27 of the 62 patients (44%). The areas of additional disease included the breast (1 patient), ipsilateral axilla (1 patient), ipsilateral supraclavicular (4 patients), ipsilateral infraclavicular (1 patient), ipsilateral IMC (5 patients), ipsilateral subpectoral (3 patients), mediastinal (8 patients), other distant/contralateral lymph nodes (15 patients), or bone (6 patients). One patient was found to have a non-breast second primary tumor. The findings of the PET/CT led to changes in PMRT in 11 of 62 patients (17.7%). These changes included additional fields in 5 patients, adjustment of fields in 2 patients, and higher doses to the supraclavicular fossa (2 patients) and IMC (5 patients). Conclusions: For patients with newly diagnosed IBC, pretreatment PET/CT provides important information concerning involvement of locoregional lymph nodes, mediastinal lymph nodes, and unsuspected sites of distant metastasis. This information is important in the design of radiotherapy treatment fields and, therefore, we recommend that PET/CT be a component of initial staging for IBC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1381-1386
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2012


  • Chest wall radiation therapy
  • Inflammatory breast cancer
  • Positron emission tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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