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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

  • Nicole Rodgers Profile

    My doctor is suggesting that I do 6 weeks of radiation after chemo. Did anyone else do this? Did anyone have any scarring or bad side effects after radiation? (a few family members are trying to talk me out of it)

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Betsy Chapin Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2010

      Hi Nicole,
      I had 36 radiation treatments after chemo. Radiation was a breeze compared to chemo. The burning was minimal and really just going everyday was a nuisance. I had a lot of sickness with chemo so after chemo was done I felt like a big weight was off my shoulders and radiation was not...

      more

      Hi Nicole,
      I had 36 radiation treatments after chemo. Radiation was a breeze compared to chemo. The burning was minimal and really just going everyday was a nuisance. I had a lot of sickness with chemo so after chemo was done I felt like a big weight was off my shoulders and radiation was not that bad.
      My advice on listening to family members is listen politely but do what you need to do for yourself and your health and remember your doctor has the knowledge and experience and is the expert in knowing how to treat your cancer. Get a second opinion if you need to for peace of mind.

      2 comments
    • Diana Foster Payne Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 4 Patient

      Hi Nicole, you didn't mention what stage cancer you have. I haven't reached the radiation part of my treatment yet but I'll be having it as soon as I'm given the go-ahead. All the women I've spoken to said the chemo side effects were much worse than the radiation treatments. Personally, I want to...

      more

      Hi Nicole, you didn't mention what stage cancer you have. I haven't reached the radiation part of my treatment yet but I'll be having it as soon as I'm given the go-ahead. All the women I've spoken to said the chemo side effects were much worse than the radiation treatments. Personally, I want to look back and say that I know I've done everything I can possibly do to be in remission. And if that means radiation, then that's what I'll do. As far as family members go....I know their intentions are good....but it's your body and health. You need to decide what's best for you! Good luck in whatever you decide and keep the faith in your journey. :)

      1 comment
  • Connie Logan Profile

    Does anyone have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep in the two weeks after taxotere cytoxin treatment? If I could sleep more I'd feel better.

    Asked by anonymous

    Stage 2B Patient
    about 7 years 6 answers
    • View all 6 answers
    • Thumb avatar default
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      I have that problem too. I take Tylenol pm and it works very well. Just Tylenol and benedryl so I'm not taking anything strong.

      Comment
    • Evelyn Heilbrunn Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2012

      I definitely had trouble sleeping (except for my 5-hour "chemo coma" when I finished a treatment!). I was told it was also due to the steroids I got IV before chemo. I was given Trazadone for sleep. It really helped. If you don't sleep well at night be sure to take a good nap or naps during...

      more

      I definitely had trouble sleeping (except for my 5-hour "chemo coma" when I finished a treatment!). I was told it was also due to the steroids I got IV before chemo. I was given Trazadone for sleep. It really helped. If you don't sleep well at night be sure to take a good nap or naps during the day. It'll throw you off your regular schedule but you'll be getting the sleep you need.

      2 comments
  • Thumb avatar default

    Does anyone have experience without radiation for Stage 1 9mm very small Invasive Ductal Carcinoma?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    almost 7 years 5 answers
    • View all 5 answers
    • Sharon Danielson Profile
      anonymous
      Survivor since 2007

      Anonymous... it is difficult to compare your particular cancer and treatment with others. Treatment is based on individual cellular differences in your lab work. What might sound like your cancer in the same type and measurement could be completely different depending on grade, ER/PR status,...

      more

      Anonymous... it is difficult to compare your particular cancer and treatment with others. Treatment is based on individual cellular differences in your lab work. What might sound like your cancer in the same type and measurement could be completely different depending on grade, ER/PR status, surgery chosen, oncoDX etc. Thankfully, newest treatments are based on each and every women's disease and circumstance. No longer are breast cancers treated by "The shotgun approach." If you questioned the type of treatment recommended by your oncologist, we suggest you seek out a second opinion. Even small invasive cancers can be some pretty nasty opponents. Hang in there and take care, Sharon

      Comment
    • carol small Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Yes, 18 years ago in 1994 I had 4mm invasive DCIS with no lymph node involvement. I had only surgery, no radiation, no chemo. I was clear for 18 years, but alas, it has come back. Nonetheless,, by not having radiation nor chemo the first time gives me many options for treatment now. So far...

      more

      Yes, 18 years ago in 1994 I had 4mm invasive DCIS with no lymph node involvement. I had only surgery, no radiation, no chemo. I was clear for 18 years, but alas, it has come back. Nonetheless,, by not having radiation nor chemo the first time gives me many options for treatment now. So far all I need to do is take Arimidex, 1 pill a day. So I still think it was a good choice not to do radiation or chemo with the 4 mm invasive and no lymph nodes the first time. Bye the way, I'm super healthy, and have no symptoms, neither the first time, nor this second time.

      Comment
  • Rita Siomos Profile

    I'm about to start Adriamycin & Cyclophosphamide and was wondering with your immune system being so low is it safe to work with the general public? And if I were to get sick how would that affect my treatment?

    Asked by anonymous

    Learning About Breast Cancer
    over 7 years 9 answers
    • View all 9 answers
    • Linda Burke Profile
      anonymous
      Stage 1 Patient

      My oncologist prefers me to not work, but says there are plenty of people who have to work during treatment. It is imperative you make sure no one is sick around you, and above all, washing your hands at every turn is a must.....for you and the people you come in contact with. It would be a...

      more

      My oncologist prefers me to not work, but says there are plenty of people who have to work during treatment. It is imperative you make sure no one is sick around you, and above all, washing your hands at every turn is a must.....for you and the people you come in contact with. It would be a good idea to carry a little bottle of hand sanitizer as well. Any kind of infection you get while on chemo can be a detriment to your already weakened immune system. I'm about to start chemo this next week, and I am lucky to not be working. I don't want to get sick from other people who may not mention they are not feeling well.

      1 comment
    • Tiffani Warila Profile
      anonymous
      Learning About Breast Cancer

      Your immune system is weaker, but I think working with people beforehand is beneficial. With me, I have worked in a kindergarten classroom for 6 years before I was diagnosed. I continued to work through my treatments and came down with 1 sore throat/ cough- that was it! I think that being...

      more

      Your immune system is weaker, but I think working with people beforehand is beneficial. With me, I have worked in a kindergarten classroom for 6 years before I was diagnosed. I continued to work through my treatments and came down with 1 sore throat/ cough- that was it! I think that being around the " germs" of 5 year olds made me able to ward off more serious infections. Everyone is different though, so run it by your oncologist beforehand.just to get his/her opinion. Best of luck to you!

      Comment

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