New breast cancer treatment breakthrough with the help of Think Pink

Thanks to donations and fundraising campaigns, we have been able to support research into a revolutionary radiotherapy treatment for breast cancer in recent years. The new technique can save up to 20 lives each year and help prevent severe heart attacks or lung cancer symptoms in up to 100 patients. Crawl position for prone radiation therapy is a revolutionary treatment in which we strongly believe. That is why we will be financing the training for healthcare staff in Belgian radiotherapy centres over the next two years.

More than 70% of patients receive radiotherapy after breast surgery. It cuts by half the chance of recurrence and increases the chances of survival. Today, almost all breast cancer patients in our country are irradiated in the supine position. Prone radiation therapy is hardly used anywhere, but it has many advantages.

Unique in Belgium

Since 2016, we have been supporting research into the crawl position for prone radiation therapy at Ghent University, UZ Gent and CHU Namur. During a six-year project, researchers developed a therapy table for breast cancer radiotherapy in the crawl position. They then studied the group of patients for whom breast and lymph node irradiation in the prone position is extremely difficult with other therapy tables.

More targeted radiation, fewer side effects

Their studies compared the crawl technique with the best standard supine technique. This shows that the crawl technique has several advantages. For example, it provides a smaller radiation dose to the lungs, heart, thyroid, oesophagus and the other side of the chest. In addition, researchers state that patients are half as likely to die from lung cancer or heart failure caused by the radiation.

New technology saves lives

At the moment, the specialised table for the crawl position is fully operational. The Jules Bordet Institute in Brussels is the first external centre where the new technique is being used. Other centres can follow. "If all centers in our country switch to this new technique, we will save 15 to 20 lives every year and 60 to 100 patients per year will be spared from serious heart attacks or lung cancer symptoms", says Professor Emeritus Wilfried De Neve.

Think Pink invests in healthcare staff training

But switching means investing. Investing in therapy tables and in the training of healthcare staff. That costs money. And not all hospitals have the necessary budgets for this. We want the best possible care for all patients and that is why we will be financing the training of the healthcare staff in the radiotherapy centres that want to make the switch over the next two years.