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Breast cancer technology protecting the heart

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New Technology at Princess Alexandra Hospital used in the treatment of breast cancer is protecting the heart from radiation doses used to treat cancer.

PA Hospital is the first facility in Queensland currently using this technique called Deep Inspiration Breath-hold (DIBH) which is provided by a snorkel device that integrates with the machines that deliver radiation therapy.

The technique of Deep Inspiration Breath-hold can be very helpful as the expansion of the lungs which occurs in deep inspiration, shifts the heart away from the radiation beams minimising the amount of radiation dose that the heart receives.

While undergoing radiation treatment, the patient is attached to a snorkel device which monitors their breathing.  At the specified time, the snorkel device holds the patient in deep inspiration so that the heart is moved away from the chest wall and away from the radiation beams.

Due to a combination of factors, breast cancer patients are living much longer, so the focus is shifting from pure treatment to quality of survival and minimising the long term side effects of treatment.

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Last updated 18 November 2019