CE Coles, EJ Harris, EM Donovan, P Bliss, PM Evans, J Fairfoul, C Mackenzie, C Rawlings, I Syndikus, N Twyman, J Vasconcelos, SL Vowler, JS Wilkinson, R Wilks, GC Wishart, J Yarnold
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: We describe a feasibility study testing the use of gold seeds for the identification of post-operative tumour bed after breast conservation surgery (BCS). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifty-three patients undergoing BCS for invasive cancer were recruited. Successful use was defined as all six seeds correctly positioned around the tumour bed during BCS, unique identification of all implanted seeds on CT planning scan and ≥ 3 seeds uniquely identified at verification to give couch displacement co-ordinates in 10/15 fractions. Planning target volume (PTV) margin size for four correction strategies were calculated from these data. Variability in tumour bed contouring was investigated with five radiation oncologists outlining five CT datasets. RESULTS: Success in inserting gold seeds, identifying them at CT planning and using them for on-treatment verification was recorded in 45/51 (88%), 37/38 (97%) and 42/43 (98%) of patients, respectively. The clinicians unfamiliar with CT breast planning consistently contoured larger volumes than those already trained. Margin size ranged from 10.1 to 1.4mm depending on correction strategy. CONCLUSION: It is feasible to implant tumour bed gold seeds during BCS. Whilst taking longer to insert than surgical clips, they have the advantage of visibility for outlining and verification regardless of the ionising radiation beam quality. Appropriate correction strategies enable margins of the order of 5mm as required by the IMPORT trials however, tackling clinician variability in contouring is important.