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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

  • Jayne Howarth Profile

    I am about to start TC chemo 4 doses 3 weekly. Really interested to hear of anyone who fasted 62-48 hours prior to chemo and 24 hours afterwards. The humans studies done show greatly lessened side effects. Anyone done this and can share please?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2A Patient
    over 7 years 13 answers
    • View all 13 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      When people hear you have breast cancer the nutty articles start being sent your way. Starving your body is not going to make the side effects less, it will make you weak and dehydrated. It will make the process all that much more difficult. You need good nutrition and keep yourself hydrated...

      more

      When people hear you have breast cancer the nutty articles start being sent your way. Starving your body is not going to make the side effects less, it will make you weak and dehydrated. It will make the process all that much more difficult. You need good nutrition and keep yourself hydrated while these drugs are going through your body. Your immune system is going to be compromised, and not fueling your body could put your overall health in severe jeopardy. Take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • cindy stephenson Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Oops I would start eatting to keep something n my stomach. I drank 64 oz of water. Ate yogurt protein etc. for me- not eatting would have made me sick. I never got sick. I had emend, Aloxi and decadron.

      Comment
  • Jennifer Edgarton Profile

    Hope not a silly question - I start 16 weeks of chemo then the remainder of the year will continue herceptin. will my hair grow back after chemo or will the herceptin keep it gone?

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    almost 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Patient

      It will grow back after you finish chemo.

      Comment
    • André Roberts Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      No worries Jennifer, herceptin doesn't cause hair loss, & there are no silly questions - or too personal. After about 2 weeks, you'll notice some shedding. Your hair will hurt. Like you had a tight ponytail in too long. After I couldn't take it anymore, I had my hubby shave me bald. It felt so...

      more

      No worries Jennifer, herceptin doesn't cause hair loss, & there are no silly questions - or too personal. After about 2 weeks, you'll notice some shedding. Your hair will hurt. Like you had a tight ponytail in too long. After I couldn't take it anymore, I had my hubby shave me bald. It felt so much better. I went commando. Didn't care what people thought. I had some hair grow, but it would fall out again. About a month or so after chemo, you get this 'white fuzz' & I lost my brows & lashes. This is when I 'looked sick'. The real hair came in. Brows & lashes returned right away, only thinner. I have the typical dark chemo curls. I was strawberry blonde before. I'm 10 months out, I've had 2 hair trims & it's getting lighter. Prayers to you.

      Comment
  • 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
    almost 7 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
  • Jeanne Arroyo Profile

    I did 3rd round of AC, one more next Thursday, then 4 rounds of taxol. I hear everyone say taxol is easier than AC, is it true?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    about 8 years 14 answers
    • View all 14 answers
    • Nikol Vega Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Taxol is easier on the body, you won't feel nausea or fatigue or any of the other side effects from AC. I developed a mild rash on my cheekbone with taxol. I also had bone pain.

      Comment
    • Elizabeth Flanigan Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      I had the same 4AC dose dense followed by 4 Taxol dose dense. While I agree that Taxol was much easier for me, it did pose its own set of issues. I found the peripheral neuropathy to be bothersome and the night sweats to interfere with my sleep. Be sure to tell your medical onco about any pain...

      more

      I had the same 4AC dose dense followed by 4 Taxol dose dense. While I agree that Taxol was much easier for me, it did pose its own set of issues. I found the peripheral neuropathy to be bothersome and the night sweats to interfere with my sleep. Be sure to tell your medical onco about any pain or neuropathy you experience. After my first Taxol, I was switched to abraxane (generic form) due to anxiety symptoms (the oncologist said that was part of what we know as restless leg syndrome) and my dose was lowered due to the "disco" type shooting pains that indicated my dose was too high. The Taxol wasn't the cause of the anxiety, but the Benedryl that had to be administered along with it, was. The abraxane was much better tolerated than the Taxol. I did lose the last remaining bit of my hair, and my eye lashes/brows...but within three weeks they were already growing back! So, in sum, be sure to tell your oncologist about any pain etc., it will help him/her judge whether your dose needs to be adjusted, etc. Also, because I felt so much better on the Taxol/Abraxane (like a bird that just grew wings!), I tended to "hit the ground running" so to speak after the last couple rounds. I paid for this later. Get your exercise, but REST and let your body recover.

      Comment

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