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Home > Testing & Treatment > Radiation Therapy > Reduce Radiation to the Heart
As success rates continue to improve, concern for safety and minimization of long-term complications increases. One area of concern is limitation of radiation dose to the heart when treating patients with early stage, left-sided breast cancers. Although great strides to limit cardiac dose have been made over the past several years, further reduction is now possible using the deep inspiration breath hold technique (DIBH).
Hall Radiation Center physicists have been monitoring respiratory motion using specialized surface imaging for years to follow tumor motion with breathing. They have now developed a specialized method of deep breathing to reduce unintended doses of radiation to the underlying heart. This allows radiation oncologists to monitor the patient’s breathing for the position that shifts the heart further away from the left breast. When patients take a deep breath, the lungs expand and naturally increase the separation between the left breast and heart. The DIBH technique takes advantage of this to further minimize radiation dose to the heart. The Hall Radiation Center physics team analyzes the results for each patient to see if there is specific benefit for them. Studies show an estimated median reduction in radiation dose to the heart of 62%. Fourteen patients have been treated at Hall-Perrine Cancer Center with this technique since August 2016.