Prone Breast Radiation – A New, Safer Way

Prone Breast Radiation

One of my subscribers just shared with me that she chose to have prone breast radiation, as opposed to the usual supine, or face-up style of radiation.

I hadn’t heard of this before so I’ve just done some research for you and wanted to share it with you.  Color me impressed!

Minimizes Damage to Cardiac and Lung Tissue

What I liked about the research on prone breast radiation is that with the breast dangling down 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 and lung damage, which was a definite deciding factor for me when I decided against radiotherapy.

Adjuvant radiotherapy to the breast appears to contribute to improved outcomes in persons with breast cancer after breast-preservation surgery, however, whole breast radiotherapy is associated with damage to the heart and lung, increased cardiovascular mortality, and the development of lung cancer, acknowledged Dr Silvia C Formenti, of the NYU School of Medicine, New York, and colleagues in a JAMA research letter (2012;308[9]:861-863).  Some patients are apparently having problems with supine breast radiation some 15 to 20 years after treatment.

Video Shows More

I found a You Tube video showing the equipment – it’s rather like an info-mercial so you might want to ignore the obvious selling component, but the video does show you the positioning of the patient and the breast so you can see how it all works.

As with most new technology, this is not available in all areas, it is generally only available in larger treatment centers in major cities.  But as I mentioned in my article on hyperthermia we are going to have to start demanding the equipment and treatments that provide us with the best technology and chances for living disease-free.  Ask your doctor – the more people who ask for this (and sometimes we have to educate our doctors!) the more chances this type of radiotherapy will become more mainstream and available.


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8 thoughts on “Prone Breast Radiation – A New, Safer Way

  1. It is mind blowing what is available for treatment nowadays . Unfortunately sometimes you are limited by geography and it takes a while for your country to catch up . But knowledge is power . I long for the day when the treatment does not come with such vicious side effects . Thanks Marnie .

  2. I completed 15 days of prone radiation treatment in December 2012.. No major side effects. If the patient is a candidate for this type of radiation – why not recommend it? I did get 2 opinions from RO’s. The first RO suggested 30 days in supine positon. The second RO recommended 15 days in prone position. My body…. I make the decision that I feel is right!

  3. It took months of searching for me to find a rad onc to do prone positioning, six hours’ drive from my home. We have several rad oncs locally but they complain that adopting prone positioning costs too much. In reviewing the research, I felt that the distance I must travel is worthwhile especially since my lumpectomy breast is still about a 32H and I also have a most impressive family cardiac history although I am the first ever to get cancer. I think it’s a shame everything is run on a pay for service basis. We owe it to ourselves and our families to insist on state of the art care.

    1. Viane,
      Hopefully this type of radiotherapy will become more mainstream. We definitely owe it to ourselves to insist on state-of-the-art care, I agree with you.
      Thanks for your comment.
      Marnie xoxox

  4. Thanks, had a modified radical with failed reconstruction requiring even more tissue removal, I also had some intense imrt left chest radiation plus a year of herceptin. This information may explain my weird chest pains. I will see about getting a referral to the heart doc.

  5. I recently started radiation treatments. Because I showed concern for my lungs(I have asthma) my radiologist suggested prone treatments. I have only had 2 treatments so far and it is a process. It takes them more than the 15min I was told it would take. I get the feeling they do not do this very often. Even though it is uncomfortable and long, I am glad because I can see how they are missing my other organs. I heard one of the technicians say it was just below my chest wall.

    1. Hi Nell,
      Thanks for your message, it’s great to hear that this method is being offered more, I’m delighted to hear it. I see you signed up for my newsletters, welcome! Let me know if I can assist you with any questions.
      Warmest regards,

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