Evaluation of target dose inhomogeneity in breast cancer treatment due to tissue elemental differences

A. Fogliata, F. De Rose, A. Stravato, G. Reggiori, S. Tomatis, M. Scorsetti, L. Cozzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Monte Carlo simulations were run to estimate the dose variations generated by the difference arising from the chemical composition of the tissues. Methods: CT datasets of five breast cancer patients were selected. Mammary gland was delineated as clinical target volume CTV, as well as CTV_lob and CTV_fat, being the lobular and fat fractions of the entire mammary gland. Patients were planned for volumetric modulated arc therapy technique, optimized in the Varian Eclipse treatment planning system. CT, structures and plans were imported in PRIMO, based on Monte Carlo code Penelope, to run three simulations: AdiMus, where the adipose and muscle tissues were automatically assigned to fat and lobular fractions of the breast; Adi and Mus, where adipose and muscle, respectively were assigned to the whole mammary gland. The specific tissue density was kept identical from the CT dataset. Differences in mean doses in the CTV_lob and CTV_fat structures were evaluated for the different tissue assignments. Differences generated by the tissue composition and estimated by Acuros dose calculations in Eclipse were also analysed. Results: From Monte Carlo simulations, the dose in the lobular fraction of the breast, when adipose tissue is assigned in place of muscle, is overestimated by 1.25±0.45%; the dose in the fat fraction of the breast with muscle tissue assignment is underestimated by 1.14±0.51%. Acuros showed an overestimation of 0.98±0.06% and an underestimation of 0.21±0.14% in the lobular and fat portions, respectively. Reason of this dissimilarity resides in the fact that the two calculations, Monte Carlo and Acuros, differently manage the range of CT numbers and the material assignments, having Acuros an overlapping range, where two tissues are both present in defined proportions. Conclusion: Although not clinically significant, the dose deposition difference in the lobular and connective fat fraction of the breast tissue lead to an improved knowledge of the possible dose distribution and homogeneity in the breast radiation treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number92
JournalRadiation Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2018


  • Breast tissue
  • Dose to medium
  • Monte Carlo
  • Tissue assignment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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