Traditional radiation therapy for breast cancer requires patients to receive very small but permanent tattoos on their chest. These tattoos help the radiation therapist position the patient correctly and deliver treatment to the right location. IDENTIFY’s cutting-edge technology eliminates the need to permanently mark the body, using advanced optical surface tracking and real time motion management to continuously monitor a patient’s position during treatment while simultaneously tracking the patient’s natural breathing movements.
Cutting-edge technology benefits Icon Cancer Centre North Lakes patients
Icon Cancer Centre North Lakes patients are now benefiting from state-of-the-art treatment using Varian’s IDENTIFY™ Surface Guidance System - an advanced technology that delivers highly accurate radiation treatment without the need to have permanent tattoo marks.
Kallangur local, Deanna Stout is one of the first women to benefit from the new treatment at Icon Cancer Centre North Lakes. The 40-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ in her left breast earlier this year.
“I turned 40 in January, so my GP encouraged me to get a free mammogram. I wasn’t worried as there is no history of breast cancer in my family. There have been cases of ovarian and thyroid cancer in my family, but breast cancer wasn’t of concern. When I had the mammogram done the ladies were lovely, but I could tell they had found something. I was told everything would be fine and they were sending me for further scans as a cautionary measure. I then had a three-hour extensive breast exam, including a core biopsy in March. In April I had hook wire biopsy surgery, followed by surgery to gain clear margins. At the end of May I started 15 sessions of radiation therapy at Icon Cancer Centre in North Lakes,” Deanna said.
Deanna said she is pleased women now have a choice when it comes to receiving tattoo marks as part of their radiation treatment.
“I don’t have any tattoos, so I was excited when I was told I didn’t have to get tattoos as part of the treatment process. I want my first tattoo to be something special when I’m older, not a permanent reminder of my cancer. The radiation treatment is quick and painless. I’m usually in and out within 20 minutes. The main side effect for me is fatigue. I’ve still been able to go out and about with my family, but I do get very tired, especially while working full time. I’ve tried not to let it have an impact on my family. That’s just what you do when you’re a mum. My children just know to hug me on my right side now, instead of my left side,” Deanna said.
Deanna is the third youngest of five sisters. Those older than her have all been having regular mammograms since the age of 40.
“A free mammogram is available to women from the age of 40. A lot of women are not aware of this. I think it’s important to get the message out there. If you’re 40 and over, just give it a go,” Deanna said.
Radiation Oncologist at Icon Cancer Centre North Lakes Professor Michael Poulsen says the centre is focused on continuously improving the treatment experience for local breast cancer patients.
“Receiving radiation treatment for breast cancer is a significant event for patients. For most, they are just coming to terms with the diagnosis and potential impacts on prognosis, as well as how treatment will impact in their day-to-day living. The omission of tattoos in the planning is just one less thing to stress about during radiation treatment. Patients can now be reassured that their treatment will be highly accurate in the delivery, while avoiding the stigma of having tattoos as a permanent reminder of their breast cancer. This is seemingly a small step but will help patients putting the memory of treatment behind them and assist them in getting back to normality,” Dr Poulsen said.
Become a patient
Find out how to become a patient at Icon Cancer Centre, or request more information from your nearest centre.
Icon brings together some of Australia’s most experienced medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and haematologists.
Learn more about breast cancer in Australia, including signs and symptoms, stages and frequently asked questions.
There are many different treatment options for breast cancer. Find out more about common treatments for breast cancer here.