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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

    chemo, lumpectomy and radiation ended 3 weeks ago. started Tamoxifen 2 weeks ago. I read you can have some pain at the surgery location but feeling a little tingling elsewhere as well in same breast. Anyone experience similar effects?

    Asked by anonymous

    about 5 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • anonymous Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2013

      I am done over 1 1/2 yrs and still get weird feelings from time to time but only lasts seconds dr tells me radiation changes tissue but its nothing major to worry about and i learned to live with it knowing its normal

      Comment
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      If it doesn't go away in a month or so I would talk to your doctor. PT really helped with my issues after treatment.

      Comment
  • Norma Johnson Profile

    Has anyone found EMEND helpful with their chemo? It's supposed to help with nausea and vomiting, but it's so expensive!

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 10 answers
    • View all 10 answers
    • Isabel Souchet Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Yes, I found it helped a lot. I took one pill for two days after chemo treatment but I also got it in my iv during treatment. The only downside was cost, $300 for two pills with insurance

      Comment
    • Jessica Fisher Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 3A Patient

      Emend was a life saver for me when I was in AC didn't need it with the taxol! I do have some oral emend left over us be happy to send to you:)

      1 comment
  • Thumb avatar default

    Will radiation hurt?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 8 years 2 answers
    • Tricia Hensey Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Sometimes it just felt like a bad sunburn. Dealing with the fatigue from radiation was more difficult.

      Comment
    • Betsy Chapin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      One of the side effects of radiation is burning at the area of the breast where radiation is targeted, but treatment centers provide special cream that can be used on the area. I had 36 radiation treatments with no burn. My oncologist recommended and said she saw best results when she had...

      more

      One of the side effects of radiation is burning at the area of the breast where radiation is targeted, but treatment centers provide special cream that can be used on the area. I had 36 radiation treatments with no burn. My oncologist recommended and said she saw best results when she had patients using aloe vera from the plant which I used every day during treatment. I would just cut off a leaf and rub the gel on the area. It was quite amazing how well it worked for me. Many garden centers sell aloe Vera plants.

      1 comment
  • Kristen Cassidy Profile

    Is it normal for my internal scar tissue to be severely painful 5 months after lumpectomy surgery? It also seems to be effecting the sensation in my left nipple

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 4 answers
    • View all 4 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      Kristen,
      I had a lumpectomy on my left breast April 4 and just finished 16 radiation treatments.The incision ended at the base of my nipple and it is VERY sensitive. I've been told by my doctors the nerves are healing and will twinge and stab for a long time, but it is always good to voice your...

      more

      Kristen,
      I had a lumpectomy on my left breast April 4 and just finished 16 radiation treatments.The incision ended at the base of my nipple and it is VERY sensitive. I've been told by my doctors the nerves are healing and will twinge and stab for a long time, but it is always good to voice your pains to your doctor. My discomfort is less than when in treatment but still bothersome. Good thoughts your way. Jo

      Comment
    • Anne Marie jacintho Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2003

      Hi kristen I am almost 10 years after my bilateral mastectomies and I still get pain in the incision area every now and then I've been told by my surgeon that is from the nerve damage during the multiple surgeries as the incision heals the scar gets tighter causing pulling type of pain. Some...

      more

      Hi kristen I am almost 10 years after my bilateral mastectomies and I still get pain in the incision area every now and then I've been told by my surgeon that is from the nerve damage during the multiple surgeries as the incision heals the scar gets tighter causing pulling type of pain. Some times a deep pain also from my lymph node biopsies I get sensitivity in the underarm area and a sharp pain every now and then. Call your surgeon and make him/her aware of your discomfort take care

      Comment

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