Cancer patients first in the county to use ‘breathing’ aid during radiotherapy

Published 22.12.2022

Breast cancer patients will be the first in the county to use a specialised visual aid to help with breath awareness during radiotherapy treatment at Peterborough City Hospital.

 The three new devices – costing around £18,000 – assist with the deep inhalation breath hold (DIBH), a technique used in the treatment of some cancer patients.

Up until now, patients undergoing radiotherapy as part of their breast cancer treatment are given verbal instructions by the radiographers on counting and holding their breath, in order to move the chest wall and protect the heart from radiation.

 The new Visual Coaching Device will enable patients, in particular those who may be hard of hearing or non-English speaking, to monitor their own breathing through graphics on a screen which move in time with inhaling and exhaling.

 Leading the project, which will initially target breast cancer patients but could be rolled out for other types of upper body radiotherapy treatment, is Senior Radiographer Georgina Williams.

She said: “We are looking to start using the visual coaching devices before the end of the year. They will help to streamline the process, making it quicker and we hope less anxious for the patient.

 "We anticipate around 500 patients a year will benefit from this new equipment, which brings the total of devices we now have to four – one for each treatment room.”

 June Dean, Head of Radiotherapy at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are confident that the visual coaching devices will make the patient journey easier and more comfortable and give them an element of control and autonomy during their radiotherapy treatment.

 “The patient is at the centre of everything we do, and every patient’s treatment will be individual to them. We want to provide each patient with access to an excellent radiotherapy service.”

 Peterborough City Hospital, Rutland and Stamford Hospital and Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon are all part of North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust.

Pic cap:

Breast cancer patients will be using the new visual coaching devices during treatment this month. Pictured with the ‘patient’ are Therapeutic Radiographer Kim Justin (left) and Senior Radiographer Georgina Williams.

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