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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 Denoble Profile

    Gums bleeding small amount, not much discomfort. Is script for lidocaine mouthwash just for discomfort or is it to prevent sores ?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      Mary are you rinsing with a baking soda/salt mixture? I did it ALL the time. Kept it in the bathroom. I rinsed when I peed & after eating. No sores for me. I also switched my toothpaste to bioten & used a soft bristle toothbrush. I had some gum bleeding, but nothing bad. Prayers to you.

      1 comment
    • Tamara Davidson Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      For comfort

      Comment
  • gima green Profile

    I went back to work after 2 weeks from a partial mastectomy. I did not calculate the emotionless toll as now they want me to do radiation. Maybe I should have had a full mastectomy and been done with it. My husband is satisfied with the decision.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 4 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I'm kind of confused by what you are saying. I would think if your having emotions after a lumpectomy, losing the whole breast would be much more traumatic for you. As for the radiation? That is usually better than chemo. Or both. Did your Onc go over all treatment possibilities before you...

      more

      I'm kind of confused by what you are saying. I would think if your having emotions after a lumpectomy, losing the whole breast would be much more traumatic for you. As for the radiation? That is usually better than chemo. Or both. Did your Onc go over all treatment possibilities before you decided what you wanted to do? It's good that your husband is there for you, but it's you who needs to be happy with the outcome. Prayers to you.

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had a lumpectomy in 2012 & double mastectomy with reconstruction in 2014 because cancer came back in another area. I also had a hysterectomy due to abnormal cells. I'm happy with my implants & grateful to GOD to B alive. 5 surgeries in 2 yrs & still I smile 🙏🏾

      Comment
  • Phyllis Marrow Profile

    Why do I get tired and fatigued quickly even after radiation has been completed a month ago?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 4 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Betti A Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      Your body has been through a lot. When I get fatigued 3+ years out of treatment I tell myself to take it easy and it will get better.

      Comment
    • Trisha Muller Quinn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2014

      Phyllis... I don't know what your other treatment were ....but I had them all more..... It took me nearly a whole year to feel almost normal again....I use to have afternoon naps , most weekends ( I work full time) and just to close my eyes for a 5 mins was great !!!...... We have been through...

      more

      Phyllis... I don't know what your other treatment were ....but I had them all more..... It took me nearly a whole year to feel almost normal again....I use to have afternoon naps , most weekends ( I work full time) and just to close my eyes for a 5 mins was great !!!...... We have been through not only physical and mental stress ... I believe that that mental stress makes a bigger impact on our life's then we know 🎀

      Comment
  • Jan Yamada Profile

    I would like to know how to reduce the side effects from hormone blockers.

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 2 answers
    • Mary Foti Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      I understand your frustrations! I switched from tamoxifen (diagnosed w/stage 1, ER , IDC in Nov. 2010) to arimidex after having a preventive hysterectomy (I am BRCA2 ) in October. Now I have joint pain (particularly in my hips), stiffness and really frequent hot flashes. I feel like I am 82...

      more

      I understand your frustrations! I switched from tamoxifen (diagnosed w/stage 1, ER , IDC in Nov. 2010) to arimidex after having a preventive hysterectomy (I am BRCA2 ) in October. Now I have joint pain (particularly in my hips), stiffness and really frequent hot flashes. I feel like I am 82 instead of 42; however, I much prefer these side effects to having cancer. My oncologist offered to switch medications but I have found that yoga - at least 3 times a week - has helped keep it manageable.

      Comment
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Jan.
      I am on Femara and a quarter of the way into the 5 th year. I would give anything to know how to decrease the hot flashes. I also have some joint and leg pain, but the hot flashes have been the side effect that has been the most uncomfortable. This is going to sound very weird and my...

      more

      Jan.
      I am on Femara and a quarter of the way into the 5 th year. I would give anything to know how to decrease the hot flashes. I also have some joint and leg pain, but the hot flashes have been the side effect that has been the most uncomfortable. This is going to sound very weird and my doctor could not explain why while taking an antibiotic for bronchitis 2 years ago, my hot flashes completely stopped. Once I stopped taking the antibiotics, the hot flashes returned..... :(
      I will be interested to see if there are any suggestions. Hang in there... 5 years actually goes by pretty fast.

      Comment

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