Radiotherapy-induced diffuse myocardial fibrosis in early-stage breast cancer patients – multimodality imaging study with six-year follow-up

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Background: Breast radiotherapy (RT) induces diffuse myocardial changes, which may increase the incidence of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction. This study aimed to evaluate the early signs of diffuse fibrosis after RT and their evolution during a six-year follow-up. Methods: Thirty patients with early-stage left-sided breast cancer were studied with echocardiography and electrocardiography (ECG) at baseline, after RT, and at three-year and six-year follow-up visits. Echocardiography analysis included an off-line analysis of integrated backscatter (IBS). ECG was analysed for fragmented QRS (fQRS). In addition, cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) imaging was performed at the six-year control. The left ventricle 16-segment model was used in cardiac imaging, and respective local radiation doses were analysed. Results: Regional myocardial reflectivity in inferoseptal segments increased by 2.02 (4.53) dB (p = 0.026) and the percentage of leads with fQRS increased from 9.2 to 16.4% (p = 0.002) during the follow-up. In CMR imaging, abnormal extracellular volume (ECV) and T1 mapping values were found with anteroseptal and apical localization in a median of 3.5 (1.00–5.75) and 3 (1.25–4.00) segments, respectively. A higher left ventricle radiation dose was associated with an increased likelihood of having changes simultaneously in CMR and echocardiography (OR 1.26, 95% Cl. 1.00–1.59, p = 0.047). Conclusions: After radiotherapy, progressive changes in markers of diffuse myocardial fibrosis were observed in a multimodal manner in ECG and echocardiography. Changes in echocardiography and abnormal values in CMR were localized in the septal and apical regions, and multiple changes were associated with higher radiation doses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number124
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adjuvant Radiotherapy
  • Breast neoplasms
  • Cardiac Electrophysiology
  • Cardiotoxicity
  • Echocardiography
  • Endomyocardial Fibrosis
  • Multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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