The University Hospital in Brussels (UZ Brussel) is the first hospital in the world to start using a safer method for the radiation treatment of breast cancer patients.
The hospital started using the ExacTrac Dynamic system in February this year, with the results in the first 25 patients already proving to be promising, according to a statement by UZ Brussel. The hospital's Radiotherapy Department was also closely involved in the development of the system.
During radiotherapy following the removal of a breast tumour, there is a risk of the patient developing heart disease, particularly for patients with a tumour in the left breast, as it is positioned closer to the heart.
This new technology reduces this risk as the radiation is performed more precisely due to better control and monitoring of patients' breathing.
"Heart irradiation can be reduced by treating patients during deep breathing. When a patient takes a deep breath, the distance between the heart and the chest increases, which reduces irradiation and therefore the risk of damage to the heart," Professor Mark De Ridder, head of the Radiotherapy Department, said.
"Patients are treated for about 5 breaths of 25 seconds. It is crucial to constantly monitor the patient's position on the treatment table and the depth of breathing and to adjust if necessary. The new ExacTrac Dynamic system allows this to be done very accurately and in a patient-friendly way."
Patients also receive direct coaching by the radiotherapy team for their breathing, meaning they are more directly involved during the irradiation process, which helps them feel more comfortable.
The system has since also been installed in the ASZ Aalst, where UZ Brussel is responsible for radiotherapy, while the Brussels hospital is also investigating how the ExacTrac Dynamic system can improve the treatment of lung cancer.