Home Radiation Breathing Technique Helps Protect Heart From Radiation During Treatment | Pennsylvania

Breathing Technique Helps Protect Heart From Radiation During Treatment | Pennsylvania

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JOHNSTOWN, Pennsylvania – Accurate targeting is vital for successful radiation therapy, said Dr Subarna Eisaman, oncologist, at the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center at the John P. Murtha Pavilion, 337 Somerset St., Johnstown.

The idea is to protect healthy cells during treatment by controlling the strength of the x-ray beam of the linear accelerator from the center and spreading the treatment over time.

When designing a treatment plan for a patient, radiation oncologists work with a team of specialist professionals, including dosimetrists, physicists, and radiation therapists. The plan includes the area of ​​the body to be targeted, the strength of the radiation beam, the duration of each session and the number of sessions.

The team works with the patient on an installation table equipped with a PET / CT scanner to find a position in which the patient can comfortably remain still as the beam is directed towards the cancer. A set of custom supports and padding is used to set the correct position.

“Everything is done on the same machine and on the same day,” Eisaman said.

“Time is running out for cancer, so we’re saving him a trip.” “

An identical table is located in the treatment room with the linear accelerator in the center. Using the same supports and pillows, the patient can get into the same position so that the beam is directed to the precise area identified in the plan.

Eisaman said the beam is directed to the tumor “cavity”, which is the location where the tumor was removed during a lumpectomy. Since the tumor site is often close to the patient’s heart or lung, it is important to protect these organs from the bundle.

This protection includes a technique known as deep inspiration breathing. It basically involves asking the patient to hold their breath for 20 seconds for each treatment.

Monitoring the patient’s breathing begins on the planning table, Eisaman said.

“We assess the patient and their anatomy while breathing freely and we compare them to the moment they are holding their breath,” she said.

Using the scanner, doctors can measure the space between the tumor and the heart and other vital organs.

Staff at the Hillman Center are trained to teach patients how to breathe properly and how deep they should hold, she said.

They can even monitor their own breathing with an iPod.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5057. Follow him on twitter @ PhotoGriffer57.

Randy Griffith is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 532-5057. Follow him on twitter @ PhotoGriffer57.