Around half of breast cancers are left-sided, and many patients receive radiation therapy after surgery to help prevent the cancer coming back. Until now, patients have been asked to hold their breath while the radiation dose is delivered, but inevitably, vital organs like the heart and lung receive some radiation. This can lead to cardiac problems down the track.
Several overseas studies have shown DIBH can reduce average radiation dose to the heart by 50% or more, with a lesser but still significant reduction in radiation to the lung. Christchurch is the first public hospital to offer DIBH to its patients. The DIBH programme uses the Elekta Active Breathing Coordinator.