Purpose: To report the incidence and potential predictors of fat necrosis in women with early stage breast cancer treated with adjuvant high-dose-rate (HDR) multicatheter interstitial brachytherapy. Methods and Materials: Between 2003 and 2010, 238 treated breasts in 236 women were treated with accelerated partial breast irradiation using HDR interstitial brachytherapy. Selection criteria included patients with Tis-T2 tumors measuring ≤3. cm, without nodal involvement, who underwent breast-conserving surgery. Ninety-nine percent of treatments were to a total dose of 34. Gy. The presence and severity of fat necrosis were prospectively recorded during followup. Cosmesis was qualitatively scored in all patients. Cosmesis was quantitatively measured via the percentage breast retraction assessment in 151 cases. Results: Median followup was 56 months. The crude rate of fat necrosis was 17.6%. The rate of symptomatic fat necrosis was 10.1%. In univariate analysis, acute breast infection and anthracycline-based chemotherapy, number of catheters, volume encompassed by the prescription isodose, volume encompassed by the 150% isodose (V150), volume encompassed by the 200% isodose, and integrated reference air kerma were significantly associated with fat necrosis. There was significant collinearity between the brachytherapy-related factors; of these, V150 was most predictive. In multivariate analysis, only V150 was significantly associated with fat necrosis. At 3 years, patients with fat necrosis were more likely to have a fair or poor cosmetic outcome and a larger percentage breast retraction assessment. Conclusions: Mammary fat necrosis is a common adverse event after breast-conserving surgery and HDR interstitial brachytherapy. Fat necrosis is associated with worse qualitative and quantitative cosmetic outcomes. Minimizing exposure volumes, such as V150, may decrease the incidence of fat necrosis and improve cosmesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106
Number of pages8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Brachytherapy
  • Breast cancer
  • Cosmesis
  • Fat necrosis
  • Partial breast


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