Heart dose
Heart dose

Significantly undercutting the heart dose is the objective of modern radiotherapy for breast cancer

Damage to the heart from radiation does not have to be inevitable – skilled clinicians and technology are improving patient safety all the time

In 2013, British researchers published alarming findings in breast cancer patients from Denmark and Sweden: according to this data, the patients had a significantly increased risk of heart attacks following radiotherapy. The heart, as well as the lungs, is one of the organs in the body that is sensitive to radiation. During radiotherapy to the left breast especially, there was a risk of exceeding the heart dose and exposing the heart to high levels of radiation.

Following breast-conserving surgery, radiotherapy significantly increases the changes of survival – but always bearing in mind the heart dose

Clinicians are very aware of the heart dose and have therefore been taking counteractive measures for years: as well as reducing the doses of radiation, radiotherapists also use optimized technology to ensure that the dose delivered is significantly below the heart dose. Modern radiotherapy systems allow radiation to be delivered more precisely and, thanks to improved positioning of patients under the linear accelerator, allow better radiation angles to be achieved too. This is made possible by automatic treatment couches such as the Radiotherapy Patient System RPS, which offers six degrees of freedom. Radiotherapy while the patient is lying on her front can also be beneficial for the heart dose if the treatment is being delivered to the left breast: measurements have shown that the dose of radiation to the heart is halved by the patient lying on her front. Modern radiotherapy increases the risk of heart attacks following breast cancer treatment by a maximum of 0.3 per cent, the clinicians have summarized. However they also point out that women who smoke, have high blood pressure or whose cholesterol levels are too high have a risk of around 1.3 percent.

Find out more about how the Radiotherapy Patient System can improve your safety during radiotherapy. Write to us by e-mail at info@gktseso.com.