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A systematic review of methods to immobilise breast tissue during adjuvant breast irradiation

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  • Biology
  • Medicine


Greater use of 3D conformal, Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT) and external beam partial breast irradiation following local excision (LE) for breast cancer has necessitated a review of the effectiveness of immobilisation methods to stabilise breast tissue. To identify the suitability of currently available breast (rather than thorax) immobilisation techniques an appraisal of the literature was undertaken. The aim was to identify and evaluate the benefit of additional or novel immobilisation approaches (beyond the standard supine, single arm abducted and angled breast board technique adopted in most radiotherapy departments). A database search was supplemented with an individual search of key radiotherapy peer-reviewed journals, author searching, and searching of the grey literature. A total of 27 articles met the inclusion criteria. The review identified good reproducibility of the thorax using the standard supine arm-pole technique. Reproducibility with the prone technique appears inferior to supine methods (based on data from existing randomised controlled trials). Assessing the effectiveness of additional breast support devices (such as rings or thermoplastic material) is hampered by small sample sizes and a lack of randomised data for comparison. Attention to breast immobilisation is recommended, as well as agreement on how breast stability should be measured using volumetric imaging. Keywords: Breast, immobilisation, positioning, reproducibility, review.

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