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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

  • Thumb avatar default

    Anybody have problems with expanders when doing radition???My temp is finished now they say they may have to take it out,

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 3C Patient
    almost 7 years 3 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I didn't do expandersbut my chemo buddy did and had to have one taken out to do rads.

      2 comments
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      They told me the same thing. My oncologist found a radiation doctor that would do it with my expanders. So, I had my radiation done with my expanders in me and they weren't all the way filled.

      Comment
  • sylvia clark Profile

    First day after chemo and have really bad heart burn and stomach discomfort. Any suggestions?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Sylvia, so sorry to hear that. :(. My Onc said heartburn was a common side effect so she put me on the acid reflux medication "Protonix" when I began chemo. It helped so much!!!! I took one every day. You might want to mention this to your doctor. It was a lifesaver for me. Hang in there...

      more

      Hi Sylvia, so sorry to hear that. :(. My Onc said heartburn was a common side effect so she put me on the acid reflux medication "Protonix" when I began chemo. It helped so much!!!! I took one every day. You might want to mention this to your doctor. It was a lifesaver for me. Hang in there Sylvia. Hugs, Diana. :)

      Comment
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I used pepcid ac but always check with the oncologist first

      Comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Any suggestions regarding selecting a wig ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Marianne R. Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2011

      I had a beautiful big that I wore twice. I wore ball caps or bald. Check with your insurance they should pay. Mine did up to $400.00.

      Comment
    • Life is Good! Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      I suggest wig shopping before you loose your hair. Take a friend and have fun trying them on. Real hair wigs are much more expensive. Synthetic are cheaper, but don't open the oven with it on... it could melt. Some insurances cover wigs. Your doctor can write you a prescription for one. ...

      more

      I suggest wig shopping before you loose your hair. Take a friend and have fun trying them on. Real hair wigs are much more expensive. Synthetic are cheaper, but don't open the oven with it on... it could melt. Some insurances cover wigs. Your doctor can write you a prescription for one. Have you attended "Look Good, Feel Better" Session offered by the American Cancer Society? They provide great tips for wigs, hats, scarves, makeup, penciling in your brows, etc. and give you lots of free make up. The American Cancer society gives away free donated wigs. I got one close to my color, but other women go wild and pick something completely different. Good luck finding one you feel comfortable in! Keep the questions coming! Your Pink Sisters care about you!

      1 comment
  • karyn johnson Profile

    Just had a CT scan today, will start Radiation in 10 days. Just nervous that they aren't being up front about the severity of side effects. I know many of you have been through it, what am I up against now?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 6 years 7 answers
    • View all 7 answers
    • Mimi Carroll Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      The only part I think they are not so up front about is the long term side effects.... They tell you about red boobs and blusters and minor side effects. And I was even told that radiation helps stop cancer reoccurrence in breast, but not long term survival rate- (really what does that fully...

      more

      The only part I think they are not so up front about is the long term side effects.... They tell you about red boobs and blusters and minor side effects. And I was even told that radiation helps stop cancer reoccurrence in breast, but not long term survival rate- (really what does that fully mean? ) What does radiation do to body in six months, two years, five years, twenty years?

      Everyone says radiation is easy.... Psychologically it is not!

      9 comments
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      The only issue my doctor told me I'd probably experience was red skin due to the radiation and I'm fair-skinned so knew it would look like a sunburn which it did. I never blistered or had any skin breakdown. He normally would have prescribed an antibiotic cream for the last 2 weeks but I'm...

      more

      The only issue my doctor told me I'd probably experience was red skin due to the radiation and I'm fair-skinned so knew it would look like a sunburn which it did. I never blistered or had any skin breakdown. He normally would have prescribed an antibiotic cream for the last 2 weeks but I'm allergic to the main ingrediant and in looking at my skin and decided I'd be OK without it. I saw him 3 months after my last treatment and he told me the toxicity was all gone from my system. I see him again in 3 months and will see how that goes. I forgot, too, he mentioned sometimes rads. will weaken ribs and that can possibly lead to fractures.

      1 comment

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