This health video looks into safer methods for breast Cancer therapy.
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Jennifer Matthews: Earlier this year, Suanne Knopf's life hit a speed bump when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Suanne Knopf: I was an interstate person. I was a go, and I had a very full schedule, and I'm now more down to a, I'd call it a Sunday rural. Jennifer Matthews: These days, she has time to sit and read -- one chapter for each day of her cancer treatment -- 35 total. She can relax, knowing her therapy is showing success. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall: We don't offset any gains we might make in terms of disease control by injuring an important structure. Jennifer Matthews: Earlier studies show standard radiation with photons or X-rays can increase the risk of heart disease. Results just released on electron radiation show the reduced penetration doesn't hurt the heart. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall: The electrons are aimed directly at what you're hitting, so there's less likelihood of error. Jennifer Matthews: The procedure also showed excellent disease control and survival rates -- all without damaging the heart. Dr. Nancy Mendenhall: Whatever that risk was, it was reduced by radiation to about a third. Jennifer Matthews: Any news is good news for Suanne, a teacher who's also weaving her basket business between treatments. Suanne Knopf: My long-term goals are to retire from teaching with hair. Jennifer Matthews: This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.