PURPOSE: To assess the effect of radiation therapy on lung function over the course of 3 years.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Evolution of restrictive and obstructive lung function parameters was investigated in 108 breast cancer participants in a randomized, controlled trial comparing conventional radiation therapy (CR) and hypofractionated tomotherapy (TT) (age at inclusion ranging 32-81 years). Spirometry, plethysmography, and hemoglobin-corrected diffusing capacity were assessed at baseline and after 3 months and 1, 2, and 3 years. Natural aging was accounted for by considering all lung function parameters in terms of percent predicted values using the most recent reference values for women aged up to 80 years.

RESULTS: In the patients with negligible history of respiratory disease or smoking (n=77), the greatest rate of functional decline was observed during the initial 3 months, this acute decrease being more marked in the CR versus the TT arm. During the remainder of the 3-year follow-up period, values (in terms of percent predicted) were maintained (diffusing capacity) or continued to decline at a slower rate (forced vital capacity). However, the average decline of the restrictive lung function parameters over a 3-year period did not exceed 9% predicted in either the TT or the CR arm. Obstructive lung function parameters remained unaffected throughout. Including also the 31 patients with a history of respiratory disease or more than 10 pack-years showed a very similar restrictive pattern.

CONCLUSIONS: In women with breast cancer, both conventional radiation therapy and hypofractionated tomotherapy induce small but consistent restrictive lung patterns over the course of a 3-year period, irrespective of baseline respiratory status or smoking history. The fastest rate of lung function decline generally occurred in the first 3 months.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)937-945
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Breast Cancer
  • hypofractionated tomotherapy
  • Conventional Radiation Therapy
  • conventional radiation therapy

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