As one of Europe's largest radiotherapy centres, St Luke's Radiation Oncology Centre at Beaumont Hospital has the capacity to treat approx 120 patients per day and provide access to all forms of modern radiotherapy treatment.
For patients with breast cancer, this is good news. And thanks to recent investments in new technology, services not previously available within the health service are now providing a greater range of radio-therapy options to patients with breast cancer.
In the chain of treatment options offered to patients, radiotherapy usually follows surgery and chemotherapy. However, the radiotherapy team try to meet patients early on to help alleviate any concerns. "We like to meet patients as soon as they find out what their individualised treatment plan is going to be. It can be an anxious time when people have a lot of questions and we try to allay any concerns they may have by inviting them to meet the team and find out what their radiotherapy will involve", says Dr Orla McArdle, Consultant Radiation Oncologist and Clinical Director at St Luke's Radiation Oncology Centre.
"Patients are referred to us by the surgical team and, at the same point, may also be meeting several other members of the cancer team such as radiologists, medical oncologists and breast care nurses. Over the past ten or fifteen years, the patient care model has developed considerably and people are now seen by a whole team of medical personnel - the multi-disciplinary team - who work together in delivering the best outcome for each patient. Being able to hold all these meetings in the new breast clinic will be an enormous advantage to our patients and to the effective operations of the team".
Typically, radiation treatment for breast cancer involves a 15 minute session, Monday to Friday, over a three week period. While attending St Luke's, patients are supported by specialist nurses, radiation therapists and the medical teams and are given information on support centres and groups to contact post treatment. Patients are then discharged back to the care of the surgeons who will see them for ongoing check-ups in the breast clinics.
Dr McArdle continues, "We are now a centre that can offer patients the very latest treatments for breast cancer and indeed all cancers. New radiotherapy treatments which are uniquely available at Beaumont Hospital to treat breast cancer include intra-operative radiotherapy and Deep Inspiration Breath Hold. These options are offered to suitable patients along with, or instead of, standard external beam radiation, helping to make treatment more convenient, more targeted and reducing the effect of radiation on non-affected organs and tissues".
"The spectrum of breast cancer is very wide and providing the best possible cancer treatment is just one of our priorities. We also place huge importance on quality of life and minimising the impact of treatment on a woman's health".
Deep Inspiration Breath Hold
is employed in the delivery of radiotherapy to women who predominantly have left-sided breast cancer. Following a mastectomy, some patients' hearts can lie close to the site on the chest wall requiring treatment. To minimise the dosage risk to younger women, or those who have heart problems, the patient is asked to take in and hold a deep breath. The heart contracts thus reducing the radiation impact. Available as a treatment option in radiation centres in Dublin only, Beaumont takes referrals from radiation oncologists nationwide.
is performed following the removal of a lump in patients with early stage breast cancer. This is a single dose of focused radiation directly on the surgery site with no need for further radiotherapy. The radiation dose is much lower than that delivered by external beam radiation and reduces the risk to non-affected nearby organs and tissues. Beaumont is the only hospital providing this option for those with early stage breast cancer.
For ways in which you can support the Breast Clinic Appeal see https://breastclinicappeal.beaumontfundraising.ie/