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GammaPod is the first stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) system optimized for treating breast cancer. By using principles of stereotactic radiotherapy to deliver higher doses in one to five treatment fractions, GammaPod can both reduce treatment time and potentially lower the toxicity of treatment.

UT Southwestern is the first center in Texas and only the second center in the world to offer GammaPod as a treatment option.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer with the GammaPod

The use of this new, patient-friendly device has the potential to improve patients’ quality of life by lowering toxicity, enhancing the overall appearance of the breast, and decreasing the number of treatments.

Stereotactic Radiotherapy Specialized for Treating Breast Cancer

Standard radiation therapy for breast cancer patients typically lasts four to six weeks, but with the beam delivery method of the GammaPod, treatment can be shortened to just one to five days. Using the new, patient-friendly device also has the potential to improve patient quality of life by lowering toxicity and enhancing the overall appearance of the breast following surgery and radiation therapy.

The GammaPod option for breast cancer patients at UT Southwestern adds another dimension to the comprehensive care available at our Center for Breast Cancer. Our radiation oncologists have pioneered techniques for delivering radiation to the breast while sparing the heart from excess radiation, and we were one of the first in the world to conduct a clinical trial of using the CyberKnife for early-stage breast cancer patients who are candidates for stereotactic partial-breast irradiation (SPBI).

Benefits of GammaPod Treatment

Breast-conserving therapy, which involves surgery and then breast irradiation, is equivalent to mastectomy in breast cancer survival.

Several randomized trials have demonstrated that breast irradiation substantially reduces the risk of local recurrence and prevents the need for subsequent mastectomy in patients with invasive breast cancer.

Standard breast irradiation is generally well-tolerated, but it can be inconvenient because the regimen can require daily treatments for up to six weeks. Quality of life can also be impacted because the process can lead to fatigue, breast pain and edema, skin erythema, and irritation.

Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) delivers radiation therapy to the lumpectomy cavity after breast-conserving surgery in eligible patients. This allows the treatment to be completed in a shorter period of time by increasing the radiation dose per treatment (fraction) focused on the smaller target volume. Several APBI techniques have been developed, including multi-catheter interstitial brachytherapy, balloon-based brachytherapy, intraoperative radiation therapy (IORT), 3D conformal radiation therapy, and stereotactic body radiation therapies such as GammaPod and CyberKnife.

Our radiation oncology physicians will be able to advise patients on their eligibility for either GammaPod- or Cyberknife-based APBI treatments.

Download the GammaPod brochure to learn more.

What to Expect from GammaPod

Quick and Comfortable Positioning

GammaPod uses patient loaders to set up patients in a prone position – lying on the chest –  which helps limit the dose of radiation to the heart and lungs. A motor-driven, prone-setup couch lifts and rotates the patient from standing position to prone position, which enhances patient comfort and ensures geometric consistency between breast imaging and treatment.

Noninvasive Immobilization of the Breast

To immobilize the breast during imaging and treatment, as well as to get the stereotactic localization of the target, our specialists use a vacuum-assisted breast immobilization cup with a built-in stereotactic frame. (Patients can also be imaged on a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan wearing this vacuum-assisted breast cup and then be transferred to GammaPod for treatment.) Three sizes of outer cups and 28 sizes of single-use, permeable inner cups are available. A single-use silicone flange joins the inner and outer cups and adheres to the chest to provide an airtight seal.

The couch has a fixed relationship with the cup-based coordinate system, so any region in the breast can be placed at the radiation focal spot by moving the couch. 

Delivering the Radiotherapy

Once set for the right target, the patient is placed on the GammaPod table, which is above the treatment source. Treatment is delivered through a multisource Cobalt-60 stereotactic radiotherapy system. The system rotates continuously, creating thousands of beam angles that combine with one another to create an intense focal spot. This method allows the surrounding healthy tissue to be spared.

This entire process – from breast-cup fitting to radiation planning and treatment delivery – is done on the same day, and because it is an outpatient procedure, patients are able to go home after treatment is completed.

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