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Prone Breast Radiation Therapy

Prone breast radiation therapy is a technique used to treat breast cancer. It involves the patient lying face down, or in the prone position, so the breast hangs down through an opening on the treatment table. This allows the radiation beam to more precisely target the breast tissue and reduce radiation toxicity to the heart and lungs.

Advantages of Prone Breast Therapy

The radiation dose in the prone position is the same as with standard supine treatment. The patient is simply in a different position, avoiding radiation exposure to major internal organs. The heart is especially vulnerable to damage when the left breast is treated because of the location of the heart on the left side of the chest. Consequently, the prone breast position is most often used when radiating left breast cancer, although it can be used for treatment in both left and right breast cancer patients.

Prone-breast radiation therapy is also effective in delivering a consistent and precise dose of radiation throughout the course of treatment. Before the prone breast technique, women with larger breasts were placed on their backs in the traditional position to receive radiation. Gravity pulls the breasts close to the body, causing exposure to internal organs and also making treatment less consistent (because larger breasts may lay flat differently with each radiation session). With the prone position, we can ensure radiation is distributed evenly, consistently and accurately during each treatment.

Is Prone Breast Radiation Therapy Right For You?

At St. Lucie Radiation Oncology, Dr. Melotek will examine you to determine what course of treatment and positioning for radiation is best. Generally speaking, any woman regardless of age can benefit from prone breast radiation therapy. Patients will be fully evaluated and provided with all the options that give them the best chance of successfully fighting their cancer with minimal side effects.

Prone breast radiation therapy has been found to be especially useful for women with large breasts. However, there are certain women who may prefer the supine, or conventional, treatment positioning. Women requiring lymph node radiation therapy are not appropriate for the prone breast technique. Additionally, a woman’s internal organ structure and certain tumor locations may not enable a patient to be treated in the prone position. If you have significant arthritis, back pain or are uncomfortable lying on your stomach for a prolonged period of time, you may benefit from supine position for radiation therapy.