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New York, Jan 6: According to findings of a study that appeared in journal Practical Radiation Oncology, women suffering from breast cancer can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease development during radiation therapy just by holding their breath during the treatment.
How does holding breath help?
According to a few studies women with cancer in the left breast have a greater risk of developing heart disease due to exposure to radiation during treatment. Such women present a particular challenge to radiation oncologists because it can be difficult to ensure that a sufficient dose of radiation is delivered to while adequately shielding the heart from exposure.
By holding breath during radiation, doctors can monitor patients' breath to determine the position that shifts the heart out of the range of the radiation beam. To confirm the analysis, researchers conducted the largest prospective study to date, which 81 enrolled women for eight years post treatment, who were asked to hold their breath during radiation treatment for breast cancer. 'We wanted to determine how effective breath-hold could be in shielding the heart from extraneous radiation exposure during treatment of the left breast,' said first study author Harriet Eldredge-Hindy, researcher in the department of radiation oncology at Thomas Jefferson University. (Read: 6 breast cancer symptoms you should never ignore)
Results: The researchers found that patients capable of holding their breath over the course of treatment had a 90 percent disease-free survival and a 96 percent overall survival, with a median reduction in radiation dose to the heart of 62 percent. 'Given that this technique helps to shield the heart during radiation treatment for breast cancer, we routinely offer breast cancer treatment with the breath hold technique at Thomas Jefferson,' said associate professor Rani Anne. (Read: Breast Cancer Awareness Month: It s time you took notice of breast cancer)
Photo source: Getty images
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