Radiation, Left Breast Cancer, and Deep Inspiration Breath Hold

My sister, Diann, recently finished Radiation for Stage 3 breast cancer of the left breast.  One reason she drove 120 miles round trip daily for 7 weeks was that a newer technology called “Deep Inspiration Breath Hold” was available.  This technique helps protect the heart and lungs from radiation while the left breast area is being treated.  The patient dons scuba-like gear and has to hold their breath for 10 to 25 seconds periodically during the radiation process so the chest wall pulls away from the heart and lungs and thus, the radiation stays away from the heart and lungs as well.

When I had radiation three and a half years ago, also for left breast cancer, I did not have this, nor did I know it existed.   This is a marvelous breakthrough to help women prevent heart and lung damage.  I suffer from both heart and lung damage from cancer treatment, so I am grateful my sister was able to have this technology.

If you need radiation for left breast cancer, I would URGE you to seek out this type of radiation treatment.  It will most likely take some research on your part, but it will be well worth it.  I hear from so many women that have heart damage years later because of radiation damage.  Just this week, I spoke to a 77 year old woman who needed a valve transplant due to damage 10 years after radiation for left breast cancer.

This picture of Diann shows her with the apparatus– the interactive device between patient and radiation.  Notice the glasses as well.  The patient interacts with the radiation technicians and the computer screen which is visible to the patient through the glasses.

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold Radiation Left Breast Cancer


This following is a terrific video from the United Kingdom that explains in simple terms more about this technology.   PLEASE take this into consideration before you get radiation for left breast cancer!




  1. Thanks Denise, for this very enlightening post! It will undoubtedly educate many women on how to survive breast cancer treatment with less life changing complications. Bless you. Love you, Auntie M

  2. I have Radiation damage after pelvic radiation for uterine cancer… My legs are now paralysed…radiation Induced lumbar Plexopathy… Radiation for breast cancer can cause Brachial plexopathy where the arm and hand can become weak… Like you I Knew nothing of these dangers before treatment

  3. I have left breast cancer and have to start radiation in a few months. I haven’t been introduced to my radiation oncologist yet. I have been so afraid of this very issue of heart and lung damage, especially since my mother passed at 60 years old of heart failure and also had lung damage and we’ll never know to what degree her breast cancer and chemo when she was 32 (~1984) had anything to do with it…makes me nervous I’ll follow in her footsteps. I hate to put my children through the same heartache of losing a parent too soon 😦

    • Melissa, although it is scary, I did not have the Deep Inspiration Breath Hold Radiation and I am doing well
      six years past radiation. It is frightening, but myself and thousands and thousands of women have made it
      through Radiation without terrible side effects. Your fears are warranted, however, especially with what you
      have been through with your mom. Sending all my best. MAKE SURE you feel comfortable with your radiation oncologist.
      Follow your gut!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s