Breast cancer treatment is taking another step forward at Alton Memorial Hospital with the addition of a prone breast board.
Funded by the AMH White Cross Auxiliary, the prone breast board assists in providing comfortable and reproducible patient positioning for treatments. Most radiation treatments are delivered with the patient lying on her back (supine position), but there can be advantages to delivering radiation with the patient lying on her stomach (prone position).
“This device allows us to position the patient on her stomach and isolate the treated breast in a unique way,” said Dr. Gregory Vlacich, medical director of Radiation Oncology at AMH. “It will keep the other breast out of the way and also further reduces any risk to the heart and lungs during the treatment.”
With the treated breast away from the body, radiation exposure to the surrounding organs and tissues such as the heart, lungs and contralateral breast can be significantly reduced in selected women.
While the concept of prone breast treatment is simple, the dependable and safe execution can be technically challenging.
“Normally, implementation of this type of radiation treatment also requires specific expertise and additional investments in physics support and staff training,” Dr. Vlacich said. “However, with our connection to the Washington University Department of Radiation Oncology, these services are already readily available and provided at AMH.”
Alton Memorial is the first cancer treatment center in the area to offer this service. Otherwise, women would have to travel to St. Louis to have prone breast radiation therapy, a major step forward considering that patients will undergo anywhere from 16 to 33 daily treatments during the course of their full treatment.
“We are very grateful to the White Cross Auxiliary for this grant,” said Stacey Ballard, manager of Oncology at AMH. “We appreciate their generosity that helps keep Alton Memorial on the cutting edge of cancer treatment.”
Pictured above: Lori Hasquin of the AMH Radiation Oncology team positions a patient on the prone breast board.