The simple act of taking a deep breath is helping to reduce the risk of heart damage for women being treated for left-sided breast cancer.
With the aid of surface-guided radiotherapy technology, Alfred Health specialists are using the technique to place more distance between the treated region, and the patient’s heart.
Alfred Health’s Director of Radiation Oncology, Prof Jeremy Millar, said the advantage of using this breathing technique is a reduction in radiation to the heart.
“While rare, exposing the heart to radiation can lead to a higher risk of heart attack later in life,” Prof Millar said.
“If we use Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH) – supported by 3D surface imaging – we can make sure radiation treatment is given only when the lungs are full.”
The surface guided breath hold technology is used in radiation therapy centres around the world but, in an Australian first, patients at The Alfred and Latrobe Regional Hospital are now benefiting from the advancement.
“Purpose-built cameras start by mapping the patient’s body, allowing precise recognition of the shape and comparison with the exact position required for the treatment,” Prof Millar said.
“Once treatment begins, the system monitors the patient’s chest movement and will automatically stop the radiation when they breathe out.”
The surface guided radiation therapy technology accurately detects if the patient moves during treatment and enables treating staff to make adjustments to compensate for the movement so that radiation is administered exactly where it needs to go. It does this without requiring any guiding tattoos or pen marks to be drawn onto the patient’s body.
“The more targeted we can be with our treatment, the more we can focus on returning someone to health and avoid unwanted long-term side effects.”