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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

    I had lumpectomy with one node removed. How long does it take to know if I am going to have lymphedema. I have some swelling above the node biopsy incision. It has been 16 days since surgery.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 6 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • jennifer lewis Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2009

      You can get lymphedema anytime. It could show up right away or years from now or never. Just be aware of anything unusual and massage the area regularly.

      Comment
    • Mimi Carroll Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I would take bets with one node gone the rest will just take over and you will have no problems... Do some gentle lymph massage to help it flow..

      2 comments
  • Lou Cam Profile

    Has anyone had dizziness from radiation ? Several old posts on bc.org said yes. Hoping this is causing my dizziness , & not the MS

    Asked by anonymous

    Survivor since 2013
    about 6 years 3 answers
    • Roz Potenza Profile
      anonymous
      Patient

      I've been done about 10 months now and I have dizzy spells. Have had for a few months now.

      Comment
    • kim c Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I had a bout of vertigo when I got up after a session. I think stress contributes to my vertigo episodes.

      Comment
  • Martha  Phillips Profile

    How does everyone feel after they take faslodex shots?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 2 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Family Member or Loved One

      From what I've heard, commonly reported side effects from Faslodex include injection site pain, nausea, muscle, joint, and bone pain.

      Hope this helps!

      Comment
    • Lokomaikai Liz-t Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I've been getting the injections for 4 months now and the main side effects I've experienced are fatigue and injection site pain. Two great tips I learned from one of the nurses that gave me the injections are:
      1. Apply heat or ice to injection site to reduce soreness in that area. It doesn't...

      more

      I've been getting the injections for 4 months now and the main side effects I've experienced are fatigue and injection site pain. Two great tips I learned from one of the nurses that gave me the injections are:
      1. Apply heat or ice to injection site to reduce soreness in that area. It doesn't matter which you use, the results are the same.
      2. Because the drug is oil based, massaging that area the first couple of days helps break it down and absorb into your system.
      I hope this helps, good luck!

      Comment
  • kelly merkling Profile

    How did your kids react to your hair loss? I have a five year old girl and she's scared.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 7 years 12 answers
    • View all 12 answers
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Kelly, my daughter was 4 when I was first diagnosed I had been open and honest about my breast cancer and the need for surgery to get rid of it. Thought all was good as my husband and I tried our best to be positive and continue living a regular live. When my daughter was in kindergarten...

      more

      Kelly, my daughter was 4 when I was first diagnosed I had been open and honest about my breast cancer and the need for surgery to get rid of it. Thought all was good as my husband and I tried our best to be positive and continue living a regular live. When my daughter was in kindergarten the teachers aide was wearing pink for the month of October and she told the class that her mother died from breast cancer. This was about a year after my diagnosis my daughter was coloring at the table and out of the blue says "mrs. -- said if you have breast cancer you die ". I was dumbfounded took a deep breath and tried to reassure my daughter told her I had breast cancer and did not die. Breast cancer can be treatable. My daughter said "okay " and went on coloring. It wasn't until she said that, that i realized my daughter was scared I would die. She is now 12 I think that fear is still in the back of her mind. She will see a doctors appt on the calendar and she'll question me what it is for. I think it is a bit hard for girls they see what we are going through and they wonder if they will have to go through the same thing. When my cousin was diagnosed with breast cancer her daughter was twelve and just starting to develop her concern was that she was doomed and wondered when she herself would get breast cancer. Just have to reassure our daughters. Just because we have cancer doesn't mean we will die. Just because we have cancer doesn't mean they will too. Most important is to let them know that cancer is yucky but there are many survivors and every year better testing and better treatments. I did not need chemo, so I can't really answer your question about what to tell your daughter about loosing your hair, but I thought sharing my experience with my daughter might give you a little insight. Take care hugs

      Comment
    • Christina Archambault Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 2B Patient

      My son was also scared he is autistic so it was worse , he wouldn't make eye contact at all if I wasn't wearing anything on my head at all. I just wore a bandanna on my bald head and got books about other mommys going through what I am so I could explain it to him in different ways. Or I would...

      more

      My son was also scared he is autistic so it was worse , he wouldn't make eye contact at all if I wasn't wearing anything on my head at all. I just wore a bandanna on my bald head and got books about other mommys going through what I am so I could explain it to him in different ways. Or I would put my wig on and let him brush it.

      Comment

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