WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- It's called PRONE RADIATION.
Radiation Oncologist Dr. Victoria Croog at Sibley Memorial Hospital says, "It's like using gravity to be our friend."
The prone position limits collateral damage to the heart, lungs, and skin. It's particularly beneficial in larger breasted woman whose cancer has not spread to the lymph nodes. When larger breasted women are lying on their back, it creates a lot of creases and folds and seams. That's where women get the most toxicity from radiation and burn.
But says Dr. Croog, when the woman is face down, gravity pulls the breast tissue safely away from the chest wall and the underlying lung and heart.
This story contains video of an exposed breast.
Prone Radiation requires a completely different set up. The table has an adjustable opening where the breast can fall through. The radiation beam is delivered only from the right and left side, not to the armpit or any part of the chest. A wedge under the healthy breast keeps it safely out of the field of radiation.
Lyn Orrell, who had been treated a few years ago for a rapid heartbeat, was thrilled to find out that Sibley offered something that could treat her cancer but not do damage to her heart.
She says it's an odd position and slightly uncomfortable but for just a short period of time.
Because Lyn's cancer is in the LEFT breast, over her heart, Dr. Croog says even Prone Radiation can be a little tricky, because the heart falls forward. But in certain cases they can get enough of a gap in between, and Dr. Croog believes it's more reliable than the other way.