New technique limits radiation to the heart

A new technique called “deep inspiration breath hold” or DIBH is now available at the Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Center in Greenwich to breast cancer patients who need radiation therapy.

During treatment planning for breast cancer, physicians pay particular attention to sparing the radiation dose to the heart, said Bruce McGibbon, MD, medical director of Radiation Oncology.

Smilow already offers prone treatment where patients lie on their stomachs. Some cases, though, require an alternative. When taking a deep breath, the heart typically moves down while the breast moves up and away. The DIBH technique takes advantage of this moment, allowing the treatment beams to skim across the chest to limit exposure to the heart.