Thyroid Function after Postoperative Radiation Therapy in Patients with Breast Cancer


1 Department of Radiotherapy, Regional Clinical Hospital in Zielona Gora Zyty 26, 65-001 Zielona Gora, Poland

2 University of Zielona Gora, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.


Objective: The aim of this study was to assess thyroid function in breast cancer patients exposed to therapeutic external beam radiation. The focus was on possible progressive changes and any relationships between the incidence of primary hypothyroidism, the time required to become hypothyroid, and factors such as chemotherapy, hormonotherapy and immunotherapy. Materials and Methods: Seventy females undergoing 3D conformal and IMRT radiation therapy for breast cancers were enrolled in a non-randomized prospective study. The patients was divided into two groups: those after mastectomy or breast conserving surgery (BCS) were irradiated to a scar of the chest wall/breast and the ipsilateral supraclavicular and the axillary areas (supraclavicular radiotherapy group - SC-RT group – 32 patients) and the control group receiving adjuvant chest wall/breast RT only (BCT group - 38 patients).The total doses were 50.0 to 70 Gy in 5 to 7 weeks. The median follow-up term was 24 months (range, 1–40 months). Thyroid function was evaluated by measuring thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), free thyroxine (fT4), and free triiodothyronine (fT3) levels. The minimum, maximum and mean thyroid gland doses for 20 Gy (V20) were calculated for all patients. Results: Statistically significant results were obtained for the SC-RT group. Two yearsa fter the end of RT the chance of an event was increased in 6% of the population (p=0.009) in the SC-RT group. In the BCT group no significance was noted. No statistically significant differences were found for V20, chemio-, immunotherapy and hormonotherapy or Ki67 values (p=0.12). No significant results were obtained for development of hypothyroidism and clinical factors (age, thyroid volume, treatment modalities). Conclusion: Radiotherapy is associated with a higher incidence of thyroid toxicity in breast cancer patients. Routine thyroid function monitoring should be recommended in such cases.