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Radiation Oncology Blog

A Blog for Radiation Oncology
Keyword: hollings cancer center

Radiation therapy for left-sided breast cancers confers a measurable dose of radiation to the heart, which is located on the left side of the chest. When radiation therapy comes in contact with the heart, coronary artery disease becomes a long-term risk for patients. Many patients with early stage breast cancer will be long-term survivors, for these patients it is especially important to lower morbidity associated with late treatment.

Deep Inspiration Breath Hold is a new technique of radiation delivery that has shown to decrease the dose of radiation therapy to heart. In this technique, the patient takes in a deep breath of air and holds their breath for 15 to 22 seconds. As the lungs expand with air, the heart is naturally pushed down and away from the chest wall, and subsequently, the left breast. The physical displacement of the heart from the treatment area results in lower heart doses during the course of radiation therapy, specifically left-sided breast cancers. The degree to which the heart is displaced from the chest wall is defined at the time of consultation and varies based on an individual’s anatomy and lung capacity. During the administration of radiation therapy, a patient’s treatment position and breathing are monitored in real time to ensure accuracy of treatment delivery.

MUSC Radiation Oncology now offers this technique to all appropriate patients with left-sided breast cancers as a means of lowering long-term treatment related cardiac morbidity. The physician will determine if an individual patient is a candidate for the Deep Inspiration Breath Hold technique during treatment planning.

National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September in the United States by health experts and advocates, and individuals concerned with men’s prostate health.  Designating a month for the disease serves the purpose of increasing public awareness of the importance of prostate health and screenings, educating about risk factors and symptoms, and advocating for further research on prostate health issues.


Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in American men.  About one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime.  According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 220,800 new cases of prostate cancer diagnosed (almost 4,000 in South Carolina) and about 27,540 deaths from prostate cancer in the United States during the year 2015. 


There are several risk factors associated with prostate cancer, including family history, race, and diet, but the most common factor is age. Prostate cancer occurs mainly in older men.  About six in ten cases are diagnosed in men aged 65 or older, and it is rare before age 40.  The average age at the time of diagnosis is about 66.


While there are a lot of risk factors for prostate cancer, there are also good survival statistics associated with the disease.  Survival rates for prostate cancer are very high.  More than 2.9 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today. 


At MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, South Carolina's only NCI Designated Cancer Center, our newest external beam treatment option is the TrueBeam™ STx system for prostate cancers.  TrueBeam is a non-invasive prostate cancer treatment technology in which high-dose radiation is delivered to the tumor from a linear accelerator rotating around the body.  Hundreds of angles and beam width adjustments in the TrueBeam prescribed treatment plan enable the radiation to be contoured to the shape of the prostate.  This results in treatment aimed directly to the prostate gland, avoiding nearby critical anatomy.  This precision reduces treatment time to just five outpatient visits.  In comparison, conventional radiation therapy could require up to 45 visits.


In addition to our newest radiation treatment option, patients are cared for by some of the region’s most knowledgeable and dedicated cancer specialists.  MUSC Hollings Cancer Center uses a team approach in which our medical experts collaborate to develop a customized treatment plan for your specific case.  Team members may include a surgeon, radiation oncologist, medical oncologist, medical physicist, nurse, radiation therapist and other experts at our center.


To learn more about prostate cancer, please visit the Prostate Cancer Foundation at  To find out more about how MUSC Hollings Cancer Center treats prostate cancer, please click here.  

Available at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center in downtown Charleston, TrueBeamTM STx offers patients an advanced radiation treatment that may minimize interruption to normal daily lifestyles, with treatment sessions lasting about 20 minutes or less.

Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is one type of treatment TrueBeam STx is capable of delivering. Patients treated with SBRT receive one to five outpatient treatments and can return to their regular activities immediately following each session. The accuracy of treatment may reduce side effects associated with other forms of treatment. Learn more about the top benefits in the infographic below.

Benefits of TrueBeam Technology

Skin cancer is the most common of all cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, it accounts for nearly half of all cancers in the United States. More than 3.5 million cases of basal and squamous cell skin cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. More than 73,000 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, are expected to be diagnosed in 2015.

Designated by the American Academy of Dermatology, May is National Melanoma Skin Cancer Prevention Month. It aims to raise awareness about skin cancer, the importance of early detection and treatment options if diagnosed. Screening options for skin cancer can include self-examinations or whole body skin examinations. Screening recommendations vary for patients of different ages, so consulting with your doctor on what is appropriate for your individual needs is best.

For patients facing a melanoma diagnosis, Hollings Cancer Center offers several treatment options, including Gamma Knife, intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), TomoTherapy and brachytherapy.

MUSC's Jenny Sullivan Sanford Melanoma & Skin Cancer Program is the only program dedicated to advanced melanoma care in South Carolina. It is designated as a Melanoma Center of Excellence (MCE) by the Melanoma Hope Network — one of fewer than 20 programs with this designation in the United States.

Contact us to learn more or schedule a consultation.

The 16th annual National Women's Health Week is celebrated May 10-16, 2015. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority and to learn about steps they can take to improve their health.

National Women's Health Week

A disease that has touched the lives of millions of women and their families, breast cancer is one important women’s health issue. It is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society’s 2015 cancer statistics for the United States:

  • About 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is noninvasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 40,290 women will die from breast cancer.

A premier destination for comprehensive breast care, Hollings Cancer Center offers a number of services and treatments for breast cancer.

One treatment option for patients is partial breast irradiation, also known as limited-field radiation therapy. The most widely practiced method of partial breast irradiation is breast brachytherapy. At MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, this treatment is deployed with MammoSite technology. The therapy minimizes radiation exposure to healthy tissue, and the course of treatment is five days as opposed to six to seven weeks with the standard treatment method.

Contact us to learn more about the comprehensive breast care program at Hollings or test your knowledge with our breast cancer quiz.