New technology prevents heart disease linked to breast cancer radiation therapy

Pee Dee

MUSC Health Florence Medical Center brought in Surface Guided Radiation Therapy to protect breast cancer patients from heart disease. According to Dr. Eric Wooten, it’s an advanced technology valued at $300,000.

“Breast cancer is the second cause of death of women with cancer. But, heart disease is still number one in the U.S, so we want to try to prevent both and this technology is just an excellent way,” Wooten said.

With the technology, medical staff can completely eliminate the chances of radiation affecting breast cancer patients. A study in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology showed that patients receiving basic radiation therapy have a 27 percent chance of suffering from heart disease.

Wooten said SGRT helps medical staff accurately detect sudden movements while also keeping the heart away from the breast during therapy.

“With this new technique, what you do is you have the patient take a deep breath in, hold it, and waht that does is it pulls the heart down away from the radiation completely.”

According to Wooten, it is extremely helpful for patients with left-sided breast cancer since the heart is more exposed. MUSC Health in Florence has used SGRT for only a month, but some patients are already impressed with the equipment.

“I started out with the older equipment, and they had to tape this little monitor to my belly to measure under my breast and make sure I was holding my breast properly each time. With the new equipment, it was really cool, they didn’t have to do that anymore. It was much more accuracy, and I could actually see it on my own,” said Christine Betts.

Betts completed her radiation and said getting SGRT helped relieve some radiation worries.

“Even with the old equipment, I had full confidence in Dr. Wooten and the nurses, but this is an extra measure of, I guess, peace of mind,” she said.

So far, MUSC Health Florence Medical Center is the only care facility with the equipment. 

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