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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

  • Mary G Profile

    Just finishing up my 3rd week of rads, no skin irritation yet but mild fatigue has set in. Also feeling some minor muscle aches and twinges. Is this "normal" in your experience,

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2013
    over 5 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      Yes I think I felt those twinges too I swear I could feel it shrink and pull but it went away. Tired yes towards end body is working hard.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 2A Patient

      Yes very normal. My skin irritation didn't start until it was close to the end. Fatigue was my worst symptom....was very very tired.

      Comment
  • Margaret Balsamo Profile

    Ah, what a week! Living in a bubble since WBCs are 0.1! Good news is mouth issues are NOT thrush. Looking forward to a few quiet days before AC 3 on Wednesday!

    Asked by anonymous

    Patient
    over 6 years 8 answers
    • View all 8 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I hope you feel better soon. Take care of yourself. Your body is busy fighting, keep helping it

      Comment
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear about your levels. Good news about not having thrush. Isn't it funny the things we BC survivors celebrate? Enjoy chill time before your next treatment. You are one step closer the the finish line! Your positive attitude is amazing and will help you...

      more

      Thanks for the update. Sorry to hear about your levels. Good news about not having thrush. Isn't it funny the things we BC survivors celebrate? Enjoy chill time before your next treatment. You are one step closer the the finish line! Your positive attitude is amazing and will help you through this journey! Take care.

      Comment
  • gima green Profile

    Has anyone experience side effect with using Tomoxafin?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 3 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      There is always a chance of side effects from any drug a person takes. I think you need to look at the benefit the drug brings with it instead of possible side effects. If you read all the side effects of every drug on the market, it would scare you to death!
      You are very lucky your cancer...

      more

      There is always a chance of side effects from any drug a person takes. I think you need to look at the benefit the drug brings with it instead of possible side effects. If you read all the side effects of every drug on the market, it would scare you to death!
      You are very lucky your cancer is a hormone positive disease. Hormone blocking drugs have been around for a long time and are quite effective. You can ask every woman here who has taken Tamoifen and you will get a different answer from every one. You can't base your decision on what another woman had happen to her. If you have had chemotherapy, the side effects from those drugs are ten times worse than Tamoxifen. Tamoxifen starves any remaining cancer cells that may still be circulating around your body, from hormones they need to survive. The main side effect from any of these types of drugs are hot flashes, and bone pain. Even with these side effects, there are things that can be done to help ease those. I took a different type of drug for 5 years that caused me to have hot flashes BUT..... I will trade hot flashes any time rather than have another breast cancer develop. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      The first six weeks were a little weird but my body adjusted to it after 4 years I don't even think about it. Hotflashes are the only thing that lingered. My onc gave a small does of Effexor and within 24 hours things were better. I take it in the morning( with food) so doesn't disrupt my sleep....

      more

      The first six weeks were a little weird but my body adjusted to it after 4 years I don't even think about it. Hotflashes are the only thing that lingered. My onc gave a small does of Effexor and within 24 hours things were better. I take it in the morning( with food) so doesn't disrupt my sleep. When the not sleeping bothers me I have some Ambien to take.

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Finished radiation a little over a week ago ! Anyone have input on how long it will take to get past the tiredness?

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2012
    about 7 years 3 answers
    • Bonnie Irwin Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I start my rads Monday, is the tiredness as bad as chemo?

      Comment
    • Erin Timlin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I finished at the same time. July 27th. My doc told me in 2 weeks I'd be feeling better and in 6 much better. Some women experience fatigue long after rads are over. I'm already feeling better.

      Comment

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