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Prone Breast Radiation Therapy at IGRT of Community Care Physicians Spares the Heart and Lungs


Posted: 3/9/2011


LATHAM, NY (03/09/2011) -- Image Guided Radiation Therapy of Community Care Physicians, P.C. provides an innovative technique for treating breast cancer called Prone Breast Radiation Therapy. This technique positions women in a prone, or face down, position during treatment, avoiding radiation exposure to the heart and lungs which may occur in traditional breast cancer treatment when women are placed in the supine position lying down on their backs.

Prone breast radiation therapy is not readily available outside of larger treatment centers in major cities across the United States. However, Radiation Oncologist Dr. Arun Puranik of Image Guided Radiation Therapy offers this treatment in an outpatient setting in the Capital Region Health Park of Latham, NY.

"Prior to using Prone Breast Radiation Therapy, women were placed in the supine position, or on their back, for treatment. In women with larger breasts, gravity would pull the breasts close to the body, creating some exposure to the heart and lungs," said Dr. Arun Puranik, Radiation Oncologist at Image Guided Radiation Therapy of Community Care Physicians, PC. "Depending on slight variations in body angle, the breast could lay differently with each treatment. As we know in cancer treatment, homogeneity is critical when treating the tumor. We radiologists must deliver a consistent dose of radiation. So, prone breast radiation becomes very effective in delivering a consistent and precise dose of radiation."

Prone breast radiation therapy is administered on a specially-designed table with a breast board to help women more comfortably lay in the prone position on her stomach with the breast away from the body for radiation therapy. The healthy breast is kept close to the body, isolating the area for treatment. With the breast away from the body during radiation in the prone position, radiation exposure to the surrounding organs and tissues, such as the heart and lungs, is minimized. This lowers the risk of complications, such as future heart disease, lung damage and poor cosmesis.

"The patient received the same dose of radiation as in the supine position, she is just in a different position, avoiding radiation exposure to major internal organs," says Dr. Puranik.

Prone breast radiation therapy is especially useful in women who have a family history of heart disease and cancer of the left breast. The heart is especially vulnerable to damage when the left breast is treated because "your heart is located on the left side of your chest," says Puranik. "If you have heart disease in your family, radiating the cancer in the supine position can further damage the heart." Consequently, the prone breast position is most often used when radiating left breast cancer, although it can be used for treatment in both left and right breast cancer patients.

However, there are certain women who may prefer the supine, or conventional, treatment positioning. "Women requiring lymph node radiation therapy are not appropriate for the prone breast technique," said Dr. Puranik. "A woman's internal organ structure and certain tumor locations may not enable a patient to be treated in the prone position. If it's difficult to remain face down during treatment, such as if you have significant arthritis, back pain or if you are generally uncomfortable in that position, you may benefit from the traditional positioning during treatment."

Studies have shown that receiving radiation to the breast while lying in the prone, or face down, position has many benefits to women, while delivery the same quality outcomes as the traditional supine position, where women lay flat on their back for radiation treatment. "While it's too soon to determine the long term outcomes from this approach, the results we see so far are promising," said Dr. Puranik.

Cardiac events can occur as a result of the volume of the heart and lungs involved in treatment. "Any treatment that delivers the same dose of radiation and avoids the involvement of major organs is worthwhile."

About Community Care Physicians, P.C.

Community Care Physicians, P.C. is the largest independent multi-specialty medical group with over 40 practices spanning Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady counties of the Capital Region. Community Care Physicians offers over 20 different specialty services, including Internal Medicine, Family Medicine, Pediatric Medicine, Geriatric Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, ImageCare Medical Imaging, Image Guided Radiation Therapy, Interventional Radiology, General Surgery, Urology, Physical Therapy, Urgent Care, Podiatry, Laboratory, Audiology, Dermatology and MOHS Surgery, Diabetes Education and Nutrition, Sports Medicine, Occupational Medicine, Bariatric Medicine, and Plastic Surgery. For more information visit www.communitycare.com.

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Contact Alexis Musto, Marketing Manager at Community Care Physicians, PC, for more information about prone breast radiation therapy at Image Guided Radiation Therapy of Community Care Physicians, PC by phone at 518-213-0322, by email at amusto@communitycare.com, or by fax at 518-782-3798.


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