When treating cancer with radiation therapy, our goal is to deliver radiation to your breast area while protecting surrounding healthy tissue from exposure and potential damage. If you have left-breast cancer, AlignRT® helps radiation oncologists take extra precautions to make sure that your heart receives minimal radiation exposure during your treatment.During treatment planning, you will lie on your back for 3D images to be taken of your body. You will be asked to take and hold a deep breath — usually for 15-25 seconds — so that your breast area is as far from your heart as it can be. This is called Deep Inspiration Breath Hold, or DIBH* . Then, during treatment, you will take and hold a deep breath in the same way as before, and when your breast area is at the right position, the display lights turn green and AlignRT turns the radiation beam on.Using three cameras to monitor thousands of points on your skin, AlignRT can detect any motion as you hold your breath — side to side, up and down, forward and back and more — with sub-millimeter accuracy. So if you move out of position, the radiation beam is turned off. Your cancer is treated. And your heart is protected.
A recent study1 showed that AlignRT plus DIBH effectively prevented radiation-induced abnormalities in blood flow to the heart. Of the breast cancer patients treated, 0% showed these abnormalities after six months. This compares to a previous study without AlignRT or DIBH, where 27% of patients showed new abnormalities in blood flow to the heart 6 months after radiation therapy2.Improvements and advances in radiation technology and delivery over time have led to dramatic decreases in heart doses for those receiving breast cancer radiation. DIBH is an important tool for cardiac sparing and has been reproducibly associated with a reduction of mean heart dose. This benefit is the greatest in those patients with left-sided disease. Further studies intended to enhance DIBH techniques and to optimize patient selection for DIBH are currently ongoing.