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Treatment

 
Treatment

Chapter: 6 - Treatment

Subchapter: 7 - Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy, which commonly follows surgery, uses x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. People with Stage 0 (DCIS ) or Stage 1 invasive cancer and higher, who have had a lumpectomy, can expect radiation therapy to be a part of their treatment regimen.

Radiation therapy is administered by a radiation oncologist at a radiation center, and usually begins three to four weeks after surgery. The radiation is used to destroy undetectable cancer cells and reduce the risk of cancer recurring in the affected breast.

Let’s discuss adjuvant radiation therapies in further detail. Keep in mind that the course of treatment you decide is something you should discuss with your radiation oncologist in order to ensure that it is as effective as possible.

External Beam Radiation
External beam radiation (also known as traditional or whole breast radiation therapy) uses external beam radiation, like that of a regular x-ray, but the beam is highly focused and targets the cancerous area for two to three minutes. This form of treatment usually involves multiple appointments in an outpatient radiation center — as many as five days a week for five or six weeks. Certain situations may require a slightly higher dose of radiation over a shorter course of treatment, usually three to four weeks.

Internal Radiation
Internal radiation is another form of partial breast radiation. During the treatment, the doctor inserts a radioactive liquid with needles, wires, or a catheter in order to target the area nearest the cancer and kill any possible remaining cancer cells.

Radiation Side Effects
Radiation therapy can have side effects, and these vary from person to person. The most common side-effects are sunburn-type skin irritation of the targeted area, breast heaviness and discoloration, and fatigue. If you experience side effects, you should discuss them with your doctor, who may be able to suggest other more comfortable treatments.

You need to be aware that more intense treatment methods will tax your body. During radiation therapy, it is essential to take care of yourself by getting extra rest and making good nutrition a priority.

Related Questions

  • Brooke Lancaster Profile

    Did anyone gain weight during chemo from steroids? Did it come off naturally after treatments were done? I just finished chemo and I have put on weight since I started.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 8 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Brooke Lancaster Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Thanks so much ladies. This is encouraging. Being bald and fat is not a good look.. Lol. I done with chemo as of last week and I can't wait to feel back to my old self. I feel like none of my clothes fit, but I refuse to shop for bigger sizes. I will just see in time if the weight just drops...

      more

      Thanks so much ladies. This is encouraging. Being bald and fat is not a good look.. Lol. I done with chemo as of last week and I can't wait to feel back to my old self. I feel like none of my clothes fit, but I refuse to shop for bigger sizes. I will just see in time if the weight just drops off. I'm sure it will once those steroids are out of my system.

      2 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Brooke, wow I can really relate. I began chemo in May, had my mastectomy, then more chemo. I have three more to go and I have gained approx. 15 lbs. I asked my Oncologist about the weight gain and she said it was normal and due to the steroids. She also said the weight would come off after my...

      more

      Hi Brooke, wow I can really relate. I began chemo in May, had my mastectomy, then more chemo. I have three more to go and I have gained approx. 15 lbs. I asked my Oncologist about the weight gain and she said it was normal and due to the steroids. She also said the weight would come off after my treatments are finished. :)

      3 comments
  • sylvia clark Profile

    Hi, I got diagnosed breast cancer a month ago. I have gone through tons of tests, but no PET SCAN.. Should I ask for one? I have surgery next week, but I have not yet met the oncologist.. Should I be concered?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so...

      more

      My treatment started in 2006 so I also had a ton of tests pre-surgery. I had a CT-Scan instead of a PET Scan, a MUGA, Bone Scan, MRI. I did meet the Oncologist before I had surgery. It was a really miserable time mentally for me. It all happened so fast and it was frightening to me. I had so many questions and as the tests came back my treatment plan became more clear. If I were you, I would talk to your surgeon or oncologist about why you are not receiving a PET scan. They may not feel you need it as they have the pre-diagnostics that are needed for you specific case. Treatment is now very specific and no two women are treated the same way. It all depends on the specific cells that make up your tumor.

      This is the type of situation you are going in to you need to ask questions and have an answer that will put your mind to rest. Don't be the least bit shy about speaking up about anything. You are going to be your own best advocate. I was able to save myself a second horrific reaction to a medication because the oncologist's office had made a mistake on my chemo "recipe." The infusion nurse and I got into a discussion because she was blowing off my concern. Turns out, I was right, she was wrong. She said, "It's a good thing you were so insistant." (duh...) So... start learning to speak up.... be respectful, but ask your questions. Good luck, I hope you hang out on this board... there are wonderful caring women on this site.

      3 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist...

      more

      Hi Sylvia. I was given a PET scan prior to the beginning of my treatment, but I had chemo first, then my bilateral mastectomy. I'm not sure it that has anything to do with it or not. I would certainly ask the reasoning behind that decision. You mentioned that you haven't met with your oncologist yet. Do you mean your surgical oncologist (who performs your surgery) or your medical oncologist (who performs your chemo)? If its your surgical oncologist, he/she should be meeting with you soon to discuss the procedure & answer any questions you might have. I would definitely call their office & find out what's going on.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    How soon after chemo can I start coloring my peach fuzz hair?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 8 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Mine was peach fuzz as well. Lol. I waited about a month until my normal hair began growing in, then cut off the old peach fuzz growth. I made sure to have a professional colorist do it. Best wishes!!!! :)

      Comment
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I was told a month. I waited about 6 weeks when I had enough peach fuzz

      Comment
  • nicole blagburn Profile

    I have a Florida trip booked for June. Is it ok to lay out after radiation or is it possible to put radiation off until July?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Ali S Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      Youre not supposed to have radiated part in sun for a year after treatment. I was in FL after radiation and just wore a tank top that covered the radiated spot. I also used a pashmina to cover the spot if I had a suit or a dress that was lower cut. Be careful with sun exposure, Check with your...

      more

      Youre not supposed to have radiated part in sun for a year after treatment. I was in FL after radiation and just wore a tank top that covered the radiated spot. I also used a pashmina to cover the spot if I had a suit or a dress that was lower cut. Be careful with sun exposure, Check with your doctor about specifics...I wouldn't have wanted to delay my treatment any longer. But that was just me

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I don't think it would be a good idea to be in the sun for any period of time. As far as delaying your rads until July I think that might be possible, I know quite a few woman that have done just that for various reasons like trips, weddings and family get togethers. It is only a couple of...

      more

      I don't think it would be a good idea to be in the sun for any period of time. As far as delaying your rads until July I think that might be possible, I know quite a few woman that have done just that for various reasons like trips, weddings and family get togethers. It is only a couple of months so speak to your doctor. Good luck and have a nice trip.

      Comment

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