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Develop treatment that only targets malignant cells.

Targeting cancerBreast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Every day, 137 women are diagnosed with some form of the disease. 

After surgery, it is essential for patients to have radiotherapy to ensure the cancer is completely gone. However, there is compelling evidence to suggest that radiotherapy to the left side during this procedure poses an increased risk of heart disease.

By eliminating or minimising the amount of radiation the heart receives during radiotherapy for breast cancer, we can reduce the risk of patients developing cardiac problems.

At Guy’s and St Thomas’, people who are treated for breast cancer on the left side with radiotherapy now benefit from a technique called Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH). This is a simple procedure: the patient inhales and holds their breath during their pre-planning CT scan. 

The action of inhaling expands the lungs and moves the chest wall and breast away from the heart. This means the heart is moved out of the region where it is at risk of a high dose of radiation. 

Using AlignRT, a 3D-imaging solution that allows for real-time tracking during radiotherapy, we can compare the images of the patient’s current position with the images taken at the pre-planning CT scan. We can then see any inconsistencies between the patient’s existing and ideal treatment position. 

The benefits of the DIBH technique in patients receiving radiotherapy to the left breast or chest wall include: 

  • The elimination or reduction in the amount of the heart being irradiated. 
  • Reduction in the risk of heart disease. 
  • More precise, targeted treatment.

The AlignRT solution was only possible for us to purchase because of the generosity of our donors. It’s just one way in which you can help us improve our patients’ health outcomes. To help us continue to provide the best possible treatment and care, please donate today.

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