Women's Health

New Technology Could Minimize Breast Cancer Radiation Side Effects

New Technology Could Minimize Breast Cancer Radiation Side Effects

New Technology Could Minimize Breast Cancer Radiation Side Effects

When receiving radiation treatments to the breast, there are dangers of exposing the heart and lungs to the damage of radiation meant for killing cancer cells. This is especially true when irradiating the left breast, as the heart is situated on the left side of the chest. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be hard to have complete control of where the radiation is targeted. When radiation affects tissue that is healthy and normal, patients can suffer from potentially severe side effects.

Radiation can result in feared side effects when damaging healthy tissues

Generally speaking, radiating healthy tissue results in the nasty side effects we so often hear about when patients share horror stories about their radiation experience.

Some of the negative consequences most feared by patients include skin burning, breast pain, and damage to internal organs. Radiation exposure to healthy tissues can result in a wide range of different toxicities. Systemic side effects can include a generalized feeling of nausea or sickness, whereas more localized side effects can include pain or skin reactions.

Vision RT may minimize radiation toxicities in cancer patients

It turns out there might be a saving grace for those who require radiation to treat their breast cancer. A new technology known as Vision RT may hold the answer to these challenges. The Vision RT monitors patient patterns to make sure that the radiation precisely strikes only in areas where it is meant to go. It uses an infrared light to track movement around the area being treated, creating 3D images so that physicians and radiation therapists can pinpoint radiation doses to exact locations affected by cancer.

Vision RT strives to improve efficacy of current radiation therapies

Founded in 2001, they strive to achieve the utmost patient comfort while optimizing the efficacy of radiation treatments. Due to its success, the company has had the privilege to work with some of the leading cancer centers in the world. Currently, it boasts some of the most cutting-edge video-based technology that tracks patient movement to guide precision in delivery radiotherapy. This non-invasive, non-ionizing approach is no present in over 600 installations internationally. The company is headquartered in the United Kingdom, and they have an office in the United States as well. Vision RT strives to improve accuracy and patient comfort in radiation therapy with up-to-date medical techniques and improvement in delivery systems.

Precision and accuracy of radiation is vital to protect the heart and lungs

Precise and accurate dose delivery of radiation is at the heart of minimizing side effects while maintaining treatment efficacy. Dr. Raj Ahuja is a radiation oncologist at the Mercy Health Perrysburg Cancer Treatment Center, and he explains that to minimize negative effects of radiation in cancer patients, we want to limit the amount of radiation that is affecting healthy cells.

Radiation is damaging to tissue, but we want to harness this destructive ability to kill off as many cancer cells as possible. As a caveat, we also need to prevent unwanted radiation damage to heart and lung tissue, the tracking of patient breathing pattern can be used. When a person inhales, it moves the heart farther away from the treatment area. This means that as a patient inhales, there is more protection around the heart resulting in a lower dose of radiation reaching the normal cells there. To keep the heart back and away from the dose of radiation, patients are instructed to hold their breath.

Read on to learn more about surface-guided radiation therapy and how it could change the face of breast cancer radiation treatments.