St. Mary Offers New Technique to Breast Cancer Patients

St. Mary Medical Center, in Langhorne, has introduced a new technique to limit radiation exposure to the heart for women receiving treatment for left-sided breast cancer.

The technique is called “deep inspiration breath-hold” (DIBH) and reduces radiation exposure to the heart by as much as 75 percent. This additional safety measure helps decrease a patient’s chances of adverse cardiac events, such as heart attacks and sudden cardiac death, later in life.

DIBH involves the patient taking a deep breath through a special spirometry monitor, which measures the volume of air inside the lungs. The patient is also given a set of goggles with a visual screen that shows how much air is being taken in and guides the patient to hold her breath for 20 to 30 seconds at a time. When lungs are inflated, physicians can deliver radiation more precisely, reducing exposure to healthy heart tissue.

“The more we can limit the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation and protect the heart, the better the long-term outcome of the patient will be,” says St. Mary radiation oncologist Hiral Fontanilla, M.D. “This is another advancement for our patients, who are living decades after initial diagnosis, thanks to more effective therapies.”

St. Mary Medical Center is recognized for achieving numerous national quality distinctions for best practice standards in care delivery, image quality, personnel qualifications, equipment, quality control procedures and quality assurance.

Location: 1201 Langhorne Newtown Rd., Langhorne. For more information, call 215-710-2000 or visit StMaryHealthcare.org. October 2017

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