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GammaPodTM — the first radiation therapy system dedicated specifically to treat early-stage breast cancer — delivers a higher dose of radiation to the tumor and less radiation to nearby vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Using an approach called stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), this innovative technology is also gentler on the skin and healthy breast tissue.
Doctors and scientists at the University of Maryland invented and developed GammaPod, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cleared for use in 2017. The University of Maryland Medical Center is the first in the world to use the new technology to treat patients.
GammaPod is just one of the latest treatment options invented and offered at the University of Maryland Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center (UMGCCC), where breast cancer patients also have access to other advanced treatments, such as proton therapy and thermal therapy.
How GammaPod Works
GammaPod’s design allows patients to be treated more comfortably in the prone position. Gravity helps the breast fall away from the chest. This means that a patient’s vital organs – the heart and lungs – are farther away from the treatment area.
The breast is fitted with a cup that prevents it from moving during treatment. Radiation beams coming from thousands of different angles work together to target a very precise treatment area. The total time the radiation beams are on with each treatment session ranges from five to 40 minutes. Patients receive the same effective dose of radiation they would have with the conventional approach. However, the radiation is delivered in fewer treatment sessions at a higher dose per session.
GammaPod Video from Xcision
Benefits of GammaPod
Beyond better protection to the heart and lungs, GammaPod patients can expect potentially fewer cosmetic side effects, such as discoloration of the breast tissue. They may experience less itching or burning than they would after traditional radiation.
GammaPod, a form of accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI), focuses radiation on only the highest risk areas affected by cancer and might prevent cancer recurrence just as well as a longer course of radiation to the entire breast.
Unlike other forms of partial breast radiation, GammaPod is non-invasive and does not require daily treatments; only one to five treatments are necessary. Whole breast radiation after surgery for early-stage breast cancer requires from 15 to 33 daily treatment sessions. GammaPod also requires much fewer than other forms of partial breast radiation therapy, which take at least 10 sessions spread over five days.
The GammaPod is proven to be safe and feasible. A variety of clinical trials are available with the potential to improve cosmetic outcomes, improve patient satisfaction, and improve convenience of care for early stage breast cancer patients.
Who Can Be Treated with GammaPod
While choosing GammaPod for treatment is a decision between patients and doctors, some general guidelines apply. Appropriate candidates include but are not limited to patients who:
- Have early-stage breast cancers (stage 0, 1 or 2)
- Are age 50 or older
- Are eligible for lumpectomy
Call 410-328-6080 for more information or to speak with a radiation oncologist to see if you are a candidate.