Simple Breathing Technique at Mays Cancer Center Protects Tissue from Radiation

Peaceful breath radiation protection.

Simple Breathing Technique at Mays Cancer Center Protects Tissue from Radiation

A straightforward breathing technique known as deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH) is proving to be particularly revelatory in the preservation of healthy body tissues during cancer radiation therapy. At the forefront of implementing this innovative method is Dr. Neil Newman, a radiation oncologist at Mays Cancer Center, affiliated with UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The technique, which involves taking a deep breath and holding it for about 25 to 30 seconds while radiation is directed to the body, has shown to be successful in shielding healthy tissues from radiation exposure.

Moving the Borderline Between Treatment and Health

According to Newman, the application of deep inspiration breath-hold yields significant benefits during gastrointestinal cancer treatments. He explains, “It has major advantages. When you breathe, your bowels move, and you are moving your bowels closer to your tumor and radiation field, which could risk more side effects.”

Escalating Doses with DIBH

Although DIBH was initially used for women with breast cancer on the left side of their body – as this allows the heart to distance from the tumor and radiation treatment – Newman has extended its use for other appropriate patients at Mays Cancer Center. This, coupled with higher doses of radiation, has corresponded with better treatment outcomes. “They increase our ability to deliver higher doses of radiation without affecting healthy cells. I like to offer higher doses when possible, and that only happens comfortably with DIBH,” he affirmed.

Practicing for Successful DIBH Application

However, holding one’s breath for over 20 seconds is not easily achieved without ample practice. Newman usually assigns his patients breath-hold homework. They have to practice holding their breath for 25-30s, three times a day. The goal is to condition the lungs for the technique, enhancing its effectiveness during actual therapy.

A Success Story Worth Noting

Cruz Jimenez III, a physical therapist diagnosed with bile duct cancer, attests to the efficiency of the DIBH technique. After employing DIBH during aggressive radiation therapy, Jimenez’s cancer biomarkers (CA19-9) fell from a worryingly high 196 to 11 after 15 treatments, with sufficient tumor shrinkage observed via CT scans.

“The radiation treatment totally inactivated the tumor,” reported a satisfied Newman. This was followed up by a successful surgical removal of the inactive tumor. Now gradually recovering, Jimenez credits DIBH as a significant factor in outliving his original nine-to-twelve-month life expectancy following the initial diagnosis.

Conclusive Remarks

The application of breath-holding techniques such as DIBH in radiation cancer therapy evidently highlights the significance of constant innovation and research in the field of healthcare. This practice propels in-depth exploration in the field, enabling the development of improved, patient-centric techniques that can vastly impact treatment outcomes and overall survival rates. After all, the ultimate aim is to end cancer, a cause that Mays Cancer Center and other supportive establishments tirelessly work towards.

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