Simple Method Reduces Breast Cancer Side Effects

Female doctor examining woman patient.Women with breast cancer on their left side have a greater risk of heart disease after radiation therapy because the heart can get exposed to during the course of treatment. Now researchers at Jefferson have shown that a breath-hold technique can protect the heart during treatment.

By inhaling deeply, filling their lungs with air, women push the heart outward and away from the heart. It’s only about an inch of space, but that inch can make a big difference. “What we find is that less than 1 percent of the heart gets a significant dose” of radiation using the breath-hold technique, says Pramila Rani Anne, MD, Associate professor and director of clinical operations and quality assurance in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Jefferson told the Philly Inquirer.

“Women shouldn’t have to worry about the long-term effects of radiation on the heart using this technique,” first author Harriet Eldredge-Hindy, MD, a fifth-year resident in the Department of Radiation Oncology told WHYY. “We should feel comfortable…because the long-term results are good.”

Patients should ask their doctor if the technique is appropriate for them.

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