WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Nearly 3 months ago, 9News Now anchor JC Hayward had a lumpectomy to remove an early stage breast cancer. We thought it was time to update you on her progress.
Last month, JC began the second phase of her cancer journey -- one intended to reduce her risk for a recurrence.
Face up is the way the most breast cancer patients receive whole breast radiation, but at Sibley Memorial Hospital, where JC Hayward had her lumpectomy in April, she is flipped over on to her stomach. It's called Prone Radiation. The idea is to limit as much as possible the radiation exposure to JC's heart and lungs.
Radiation oncologist Dr. Victoria Croog explained, "Instead of the normal positioning of the breast lying across the chest wall when someone lies on their back and towards their armpit, this brings all of the breast tissue together into a way that can be treated much more uniformly without cutting through the lungs."
Dr. Croog says this friendly use of gravity is especially beneficial in women with generous size breasts, whose cancer is on the right side and has not spread to the lymph nodes.
Croog told us, "This is a treatment only for patients who need breast only radiation."
JC's radiation therapy is everyday for 6 weeks. But even before her sessions began, she had to be measured and tattooed.
"With any sort of radiation, precision is the key to be able to give good doses of radiation accurately and reproductively," said Croog.
But even more so with Prone Radiation because it's an entirely different set-up. The table has an adjustable opening where the breast can fall through.
The radiation beam is delivered only from the left and right, not to the armpit or any part of the chest. A wedge is placed under the healthy breast to keep it out of the radiation field. The position can be slightly uncomfortable, but after the initial session, the treatment is over with pretty quickly.
A Buddy Check 9 piece from the 1990s reported on Prone Radiation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Currently, Sibley is the only other hospital in D.C. offering this clinical service. However, as more doctors become aware of the technique, a Prone Radiation Board is showing up on the wish list of several other area hospitals.