I read with great interest the Healthy Living section in The News-Review on May 20. I greatly appreciate Dr. Elizabeth Ko and Dr. Eve Glazier, both doctors at UCLA, highlighting the utilization of radiation therapy as one of the main modalities of treatment for breast cancer treatment.
I was hopeful they would have highlighted the effectiveness of modern treatment techniques and the promise of individualized personal treatment of todays technology. While acknowledging there are hazards associated with radiation therapy, the risks of cardiac injury are now exceedingly low.
Risk of death from ischemic heart disease increased from a value of 1.9% for general population to 2.4% for patients who underwent left breast radiation therapy. The highest risk exists for those patients who have preexisting heart disease.
It would be very helpful to point out several important health issues that this article illustrates for our community. The primary concern is reducing the risk of developing ischemic heart disease. The factors that can alter your risk for heart disease include smoking avoidance, or stopping smoking if you are a smoker, eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and maintaining an active lifestyle.
At the Community Cancer Center, we are dedicated to addressing the individual needs of our patients. We prescribe radiation utilizing cardiac avoidance procedures, because we know that with each decrease of one unit of measurement, the risk of heart disease decreases by 7.4%. We have smoking cessation classes and information is available through the Community Cancer website or calling the Community Cancer Center. Dietary information is individually tailored by the registered dietician who works closely with the significant family and friends. Ally Gottfried, RD has established a support group for women interested in weight control (also shown to be beneficial for overall survival). An active lifestyle is emphasized throughout the treatment course.
The message that I would like to convey to your readers is one of hope. I believe the headline of the article was misleading and harmful to the general public. I want you to know that radiation therapy delivered for breast cancer in our community is delivered with forethought and your safety in mind. Many more lives have been saved and quality of life improved with use of highly effective radiation therapy. Overall breast cancer survival rates approach 95% with early detection. Careful follow up following established national guidelines is very important to assure your continued health after treatment completion.
While Doctors Ko and Glazier’s article was well intended, it badly missed the mark. It is important to us that we maintain your health, along with minimizing treatment ill effects. We are here to assist you along through your cancer treatment journey. Should you ever have any questions about your cancer, we are here to help. Don’t worry — we’ve got your back, and your safety in mind.