SA Milgrom, HA Vargas, E Sala, JF Kelvin, H Hricak, KA Goodman
Br J Radiol
OBJECTIVE: Pelvic radiation therapy (RT) can influence fertility in female rectal cancer survivors. Data regarding its effects on the adult uterus are scant. This study aims to evaluate the uterus before and after RT, using dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI. METHODS: Eligible patients (n=10) received RT for rectal cancer, had an intact uterus and underwent dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI before and after RT. Seven patients were pre-menopausal. RESULTS: Patients received pelvic RT (median, 50.2 Gy) with concurrent 5-fluorouracil. Five patients were treated with intensity modulated RT (IMRT) and five with a three-field technique. The median D95 of the uterus was 30 Gy; D05 was 48 Gy; and V95 was 97%. The median cervical D95 was 45 Gy; D05, 50 Gy; and V95, 100%. Cervical dose was higher with IMRT than with three-field plans (p≤0.038). On T2 MRI, the junctional zone was visible in nine patients before and in one after RT (p=0.001). Median cervical length (2.3 vs 3.0 cm) and endometrial thickness (2.6 vs 5.9 mm) were reduced after RT (p≤0.008). In pre-menopausal patients, the volume transfer constant, K(trans), (0.069 vs 0.195, p=0.006) and the extracellular extravascular volume fraction, V(e), (0.217 vs 0.520, p=0.053) decreased. CONCLUSION: Pelvic RT significantly affected uterine anatomy and perfusion. Cervical dose was higher with IMRT than three-field plans, but no attempt was made to constrain the dose. ADVANCES IN KNOWLEDGE: Pelvic RT significantly affects the adult uterus. These findings are crucial to understand the potential consequences of RT on fertility, and they lay the groundwork for further prospective studies.