Background The use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) in breast cancer reduces clinician-assessed breast tissue toxicity including fibrosis, telangectasia and sub-optimal cosmesis. Patient reported outcome measures (PROMs) are also important as they provide the patient's perspective. This longitudinal study reports on (a) the effect of forward planned field-in-field IMRT (∼simple IMRT) on PROMs compared to standard RT at 5 years after RT, (b) factors affecting PROMs at 5 years after RT and (c) the trend of PROMs over 5 years of follow up. Methods PROMs were assessed at baseline (pre-RT), 6, 24 and 60 months after completion of RT using global health (EORTC QLQ C30) and 4 breast symptom questions (BR23). Also, 4 breast RT-specific questions were included at 6, 24 and 60 months: change in skin appearance, firmness to touch, reduction in breast size and overall change in breast appearance since RT. The benefits of simple IMRT over standard RT at 5 years after RT were assessed using standard t-test for global health and logistic regression analysis for breast symptom questions and breast RT-specific questions. Clinical factors affecting PROMs at 5 years were investigated using a multivariate analysis. A repeated mixed model was applied to explore the trend over time for each of PROMs. Results (89%) 727/815, 84%, 81% and 61% patients completed questionnaires at baseline, 6, 24 and 60 months respectively. Patients reported worse toxicity for all four BR23 breast symptoms at 6 months, which then improved over time (p < 0.0001). They also reported improvement in skin appearance and breast hardness over time (p < 0.0001), with no significant change for breast shrinkage (p = 0.47) and overall breast appearance (p = 0.13). At 5 years, PROMs assessments did not demonstrate a benefit for simple IMRT over standard radiotherapy. Large breast volume, young age, baseline surgical cosmesis and post-operative infection were the most important variables to affect PROMs. Conclusions This study was unable to demonstrate the benefits of IMRT on PROMs at 5 years. PROMs are influenced by non-radiotherapy factors and surgical factors should be optimised to improve patients' outcome. Only a small proportion of patients report moderate-severe breast changes post radiotherapy, with most PROMs improving over time. The difference in clinician assessment and PROMs outcome requires further investigation. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
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