Breast cancer and radiation

Hello, I am 43 years old, I have a pacemaker on my left side and I have been diagnosed with breast cancer on my left breast. 
The radiation oncology told me that I won't be able to have radiation with the pacemaker and I will have to move it to the other side. I am terrified. I am 100% paced for heart block third degree. 
Do you have any experience with this? Were you able to get radiation therapy close to the PM?

thabk you so much 


Breast cancer and radiation - hope this helps

by Gemita - 2022-01-24 06:22:52


Firstly, please try not to panic.  You need all your strength to fight your cancer and you will. If you search this site under “Q” - type in radiation - you should get posts up from members who have asked about radiation treatment.  To get you started, I attach below one such Pacemaker Club link and also a link from our UK Cancer Research organisation on this subject. 

I have read that therapeutic radiation for treating cancerous tumours can damage the pacemaker's circuits. The degree of damage is unpredictable and may vary with different pacemaker systems.  But the risk appears to be significant and builds up as the radiation dose increases.  I see you are in New York.  The American Heart Association recommends that the pacemaker be shielded as much as possible, and moved if it lies directly in the radiation field. If you depend on your pacemaker for normal heart pacing, the electrocardiogram (ECG) should be monitored during the treatment, and your pulse generator should be tested often after and between radiation sessions.

Of course you should be guided by your own doctors and their recommendations and level of expertise to safeguard you during treatment but it might be worth asking them whether, if certain safety precautions are met, (like shielding and monitoring before, during and after treatment and they are able to limit the amount of radiation your pacemaker is exposed to), whether your pacemaker could stay in place?  Doctors from all your specialities (oncologist, radiologist and electrophysiologist) will of course be involved.

Pancake I do wish you well.  Whatever happens, it is important you focus on treating your cancer.  Your doctors will take good care of your heart and pacemaker to give you every chance of overcoming your disease.

Gemita you are wonderful

by mybossci - 2022-01-24 10:30:57

Gemita you are much appreciated for your knowledge, and kindness to us all.

Pancake, the prayers of the many of the  of the club, will be with you.

Radiation therapy and pacemakers.

by TAC - 2022-01-24 11:02:55

Radiation therapy does indeed affect pacemakers, regardless of location. Your oncology doctor needs to figure out a safe treatment plan along with the electrophysiology team. I'm sure that you're not the only case in the world facing this dilema. Some ways to treat your cancer safely will have to be found, but definitely it will involve your oncologist and your ED together.


by PANCAKE - 2022-06-15 19:43:33

Hello, I just wanted to update you on my situation since it could help other people.  
After getting 3 different opinions by 3 different surgeons and radiation oncologists (in California) I was able to undergo radiation therapy with my pacemaker. I had 2 surgeries and 24 sessions of radiation and everything went well. So far so good. 
The pacemaker was not in the direct field of radiation so the doctors decided it was safe for me to undergo the treatment. 
A magnet on the pacemaker was placed during each session and a Boston Scientific representative checked on me a few times before radiation. 
I hope this information can help other people like me. 
I got my treatment at City of Hope in Duarte, CA. 

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I'm 43 and have had my pacemaker four weeks today. I'm looking forward to living another 50 years and this marvelous device inside me will help me do that.