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 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.
Asked by anonymousLearning About Breast Cancer
I think it is always proactive to read as much as you can about the pros & cons of drugs, side effects, and patient comments. As with any treatment for any disease, the reactions to drugs are individual case by case situations. With drugs, one patient may have a bunch of problems whereas the...
I think it is always proactive to read as much as you can about the pros & cons of drugs, side effects, and patient comments. As with any treatment for any disease, the reactions to drugs are individual case by case situations. With drugs, one patient may have a bunch of problems whereas the next won't have any, to speak of. The most common problem will be listed first and then dribble off to a story or two. You have to weigh the risk and reward to make an educated decision. You are dealing with a very tough opponent and sometimes you have to plug your nose and go-for-it. It is all a gamble but sometimes its the better of the choices. I was terrified to have chemotherapy but HAD to do it. The things I had worried about did not even surface.... I was fine. Don't get so hung up on the negative side effects is paralyses your chances for pulling out all the stops for fighting this disease. Sometimes, it is all we have to push back this nasty disease. If you don't take it.... your disease isn't going to get better. As my Granny would say..... "don't throw the baby out with the bath water... " It is a difficult choice to take most of this medication to fight cancer, believe me, I KNOW what you are going through with the angst about your decision. Hang in there.... take care, Sharon
There are some patients that have other health issues that make a risk factor too high to take certain drugs such as liver, kidney, cardiovascular, disease, etc. For those of us who have relatively good health we know that cancer will become our most dangerous risk factor if fear blocks the...
There are some patients that have other health issues that make a risk factor too high to take certain drugs such as liver, kidney, cardiovascular, disease, etc. For those of us who have relatively good health we know that cancer will become our most dangerous risk factor if fear blocks the healing path that is laid out for us by our doctors. I currently take an AI that can and problably will elevate my already high cholestrol even though I have taken cholestrol lowering meds for 15 years. 12 years ago I had an TIA (mini-stroke). I was trim, extremely active and athletic. I had 40% blockage in my right carotid artery. I may have a stroke in my future and I may not, but I do know that if a cancer cell is left to its little self and my body feeds it with my estrogen that I will either fight cancer again or loose the battle altogether. Hence, I take that little pill that can make me feel sluggish and sometimes old, but today I took my grandchildren to a family farm and watched them enjoy the simple things of life. Side effects are just as personal as each cancer diagnosis. Until you take a particular treatment, you can't know how it affects you as an individual. Good luck and kick fear in the booty. :-D Jo
Asked by anonymousStage 3C Patient
I did not do Rads, but I had a fever after the reconstruction surgery. I got the antibiotics but it got worse and they had to remove the TE. Good luck to you!!Comment 0
Hi Margaret, I just read this post. How do you do with TE infection? I start radiation this week . I have a infection in the drain removal area. Dr has me on antibiotics for 10 days. Thank you if you can reply. And how are you now?1 comment 0
Asked by anonymousLearning About Breast Cancer
Asked by anonymousSurvivor since 2012
I had someone tell me, "o well they were gonna start in a few years anyway" we'll, hello I would have loved to had those years!Comment 2
People can be idiots, but they can also not have a clue. On one hand, they probably truly think they are giving you words of comfort. I give them the benefit of the doubt and forgive them. If you look at it that way, it takes some of the sting out of their lack of knowledge. I had one...
People can be idiots, but they can also not have a clue. On one hand, they probably truly think they are giving you words of comfort. I give them the benefit of the doubt and forgive them. If you look at it that way, it takes some of the sting out of their lack of knowledge. I had one person say to me every time I had a hot flash in their presence, "oh you are having your own personal summer." Lordy, did I get sick of hearing that but it was their way of giving me some kind of comfort.....not. So often, we have to turn our way of thinking around, it can take away another bit of stress while going through this process. I completely understand your frustration with this. Hang in there, what doesn't kill us only makes us STRONGER! Take care, Sharon
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