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A physician standing with a cardiac-sparing radiation therapy machine.

While radiation therapy is a highly effective treatment for cancers in the breast, upper abdomen, and chest, treatment of these areas exposes the nearby heart to radiation.

Atlantic Health System Cancer Care at Morristown and Chilton medical centers helps prevent this unintentional radiation damage to the heart through a technique known as Deep Inspiration Breath Hold (DIBH). The DIBH consists of taking a deep breath and holding it throughout treatment. This simple-seeming technique effectively moves the heart out of range of the treatment, protecting it from radiation.

State-of-the-art equipment at Morristown and Chilton medical centers improve upon the DIBH technique by monitoring the patient’s positioning, including the expansion of the chest during a DIBH, with sub-millimeter accuracy. The equipment alerts radiologists if the patient moves out of proper positioning – when exhaling, for example. This has been shown to substantially decrease abnormalities in blood flow to the heart as long as six-months post treatment.

Dr. Karim assured me that she could safely provide radiation treatment while protecting my heart and pacemaker using the Align RT system and DIBH. The treatments were easy and painless.

Colleen O.
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Colleen, a healthy, cancer-free, cardiac-sparing radiation patient.

Colleen's Story

An active, 67-year-old retired grandmother, Colleen always made sure to get a yearly mammogram. She was blindsided when her mammogram and ultrasound found cancer.

Since Colleen wears a pacemaker, and her cancer was in her left breast, she chose to pursue radiation treatment while protecting her heart and pacemaker using the AlignRT® radiation system. 

Colleen is now healthy, cancer-free, and enjoying life. She is engaged to be remarried and ready to embark on her next exciting chapter.