SAN ANTONIO — Radiation is a very common way to treat breast cancer. But, while it may rid the body of the disease, it could cause damage to your heart in the long term.
Dr. Timothy Wagner, a radiation oncologist at the Mays Cancer Center with UT Health San Antonio, says they use C-RAD technology to perform "Deep Inspiration Breath Hold" targeted radiation therapy.
"It is a new technology that basically allows us to treat the left-sided breast cancer without delivering any dose to the heart," Dr. Wagner said.
It also helps prevent long-term cardiac complications.
"What we are able to do is have the patient take a deep breath which pushes the heart away from the target area that we want to treat, and it allows us to avoid the part completely while treating the target tissue which is the breast tissue," Dr. Wagner said.
Deep inspiration breath hold is used for patients with left-sided breast cancer, lymphoma in the chest region, or other tumors of the chest or upper abdomen.
"The more we are able to reduce the dose to the heart the more these patients don't have to deal with the long term side effects associated with treatment," Dr. Wagner added.
Patients wear virtual reality goggles so they know when to hold their breath, where to keep it, and if they fall out of range the radiation instantly stops.
"We don't want them having to deal with things like heart disease, lung disease,"Dr. Wagner said.
"What we are trying to do is enhance our ability to treat and cure these tumors but we really need to maintain quality of life."