Supraclavicular and infraclavicular lymph node delineation in breast cancer patients: a proposal deriving from a comparative study


Aims and background

Current advances in radiotherapy for breast cancer require knowledge of the anatomy of irradiated areas to minimize geographic miss and spare organs at risk. This study aimed at defining a contouring approach for supraclavicular (SC) and infraclavicular (IC) nodes after mastectomy or conservative surgery in patients with breast cancer.

Methods and study design

In 15 patients, SC and IC nodes were contoured on computed tomography slices according to Madu et al and Dijkema et al. After analyzing relapse sites, as reported by Reed et al, our approach was defined. The 3 methods were compared in all patients, quantifying differences in contours by percentage overlap (PO).


In our approach, SC node delineation is similar to Madu et al in the ventral and medial landmarks, but includes the lateral SC nodes described by Dijkema et al. The lateral landmarks are the scalenus anterior and medius muscle lateral border and the clavicle. Dorsal boundaries are the scalenus anterior and medius muscle ventral and lateral surfaces and the subclavian artery ventral border. In IC node delineation, major differences emerged in cranial and dorsal limits which, in our approach, are the pectoralis minor muscle upper edge and the subclavian axillary artery ventral side. Our mean and median volumes and POs were between the other 2 methods.


This study contributes to standardizing draining node contouring, so as to reduce variability and minimize geographic miss.

Tumori 2015; 101(5): 478 - 486




Francesca Cucciarelli, Youlia M. Kirova, Isabella Palumbo, Cynthia Aristei

Article History


Financial support: None.
Conflict of interest: None.

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  • Radiotherapy Institute, Department of Internal Medicine, Ospedali Riuniti Umberto I, G.M. Lancisi, G. Salesi, Ancona - Italy
  • Department of Radiation Oncology, Institut Curie, Paris - France
  • Radiation Oncology Section, Department of Surgical and Biomedical Science, University of Perugia and Perugia General Hospital, Perugia - Italy

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