We examined radiation pneumonitis in breast cancer patients after breast conservation treatment (BCT) and analysed the degree of radiation-induced lung fibrosis by computed tomographies of the chest (chest CT). Fifty-two breast cancer patients were treated with BCT, including breast irradiation and chemotherapy. These patients symptomatic of radiation pneumonitis were examined every two to four weeks. Chest X-rays and chest CT were performed about one year after irradiation. symptoms due to radiation pneumonitis was registered in % of patients. lungs showed fibrotic changes by chest CT in 90% of the cases. Concurrent or alternative chemotherapy increased the incidence of symptomatic radiation pneumonitis and, to a certain extent, the degree of fibrotic change in the lung after BCT.
Twelve patients were diagnosed of RRP, of who 8 received taxanes. The median time interval between end of radiotherapy and RRP, between end of radiotherapy and beginning of chemotherapy, and between beginning of chemotherapy and RRP was 95 days, 42 days and 47 days, respectively. Marked symptomatic and radiographic improvement was observed in the 12 patients after withdrawal of chemotherapy and application of systemic corticosteroids. Seven patients were rechallenged with chemotherapy, of whom four with the same kind of agents, and showed no recurrence with steroid cover.